In the December issue of Playboy, Conan O'Brien gives his most candid interview yet about NBC cohort Jay Leno, who famously snatched back The Tonight Show last year, leaving O'Brien, 47, without a job.
O'Brien - who debuts a TBS show Monday - insists he isn't resentful.
"I have had too many good things happen in my career to end on any kind of bitter note," he tells Playboy's Rob Tannenbaum. "I'm just saying this to you; we're alone in this office, and I don’t have to say this: I am an incredibly fortunate person ... And as crazy as this sounds, my career with NBC was overwhelmingly positive until this ... The entertainment business has an amazing way of turning really lucky people into bitter, angry, rage-filled, jealous, resentful wretches who can’t believe they got screwed. Some things have worked out great for me, some things haven't. You keep going."
Doing his final Tonight Shows was a high, he says.
"A lot of people tuned in, and I was really proud of what I was able to make in that situation," O'Brien tells Playboy. "So this was good, this was bad, this was ugly, this was beautiful, this was f*cked-up, this was sublime. It was cherry, it was vanilla, it was frogurt, it was mocha chocolate chip."
Leno's studio "is not far away" from O'Brien's lot in Burbank, Calif.
"I think if I worked out and had help with hydraulics, we could hit it with a tennis ball," says O'Brien. "[Leno is] a guy you hear coming a long way off. There aren’t many three-cylinder engines in California that run on peat moss. And we hang out in different circles, so I don’t think we’ll be bumping into each other."
O'Brien says Leno is even welcome on his show.
"He can come as the musical guest, because that I want to see," he says. "No one knows he has an operatic range [sings as Leno]."
Kidding aside, he says: "No, there are certain things I will not do, regardless of the price."