Is Jay Leno a Corporate Shill?

You’d think that with a whopping 20 minutes carved out of an hour for commercials, the actual television program itself would be devoid of commercials, right? Not so. Jay Leno has a considerable preoccupation with naming products on his show (and, in the video above, interviewing the Wendy’s girl). The above video, featuring moments only from the September 25, 2009 episode of The Jay Leno Show, features blatant references to Cialis, Walmart, Photoshop, Waffle House, numerous tire companies, Wendy’s, and Microsoft’s Bing, calling into question the notion that The Jay Leno Show is an entertainment program. With all of these mentions, you’d think that Jay Leno was running a glorified infomercial.


  1. Yeah, he’s been at it for a long while. Remember Bill Hicks’ bit on Jay Leno being a corporate shill. That was in ’92. BTW, “corporate shill,” were Hicks’ exact words. “You do a commercial, you’re off the artistic fuckin’ role call.” I believe it first started with Jay when he did a Doritos commercial in the early 90s.

  2. This is all very naive. The stars of TV shows often appeared in the commercials for their sponsors’ products that were aired with the program. I once saw an ad with Bewitched stars Dick York and Elizabeth Montgomery, in character, sitting at their breakfast table.

    Radio shows and, in the early days of TV, TV shows were directed by advertising account executives from the sponsor’s ad agencies. Product placements are inserted in TV shows and movies routinely.

    Anyway, since when did Leno become an artist? He’s a performer. TV and movies are inherently commercial media, produced by corporations to serve corporate interests.

    Leno complies or he’s out of a job.

  3. A lot of comics consider themselves artists. Sure, they entertain, but you say that like it’s a bad thing. Isaac Bashevis Singer said, of books, that their function, first and foremost, is to entertain.

  4. I don’t think you are quite getting the point. These shows _are_ “glorified infomercial” in that they are there to promote various things. The two biggest “products” in that episode you left out were the FOX TV show “House” and Lionsgate film “More Than a Game.”

    Very rarely is there a guest on one of these talkshows that is not there to “plug” some product they are selling.

  5. In creating the 10 p.m. show for Jay Leno, NBC made a big deal of its plans to use live promotions to help advertisers sidestep the practice of Tivo’d commercials. It is more prevalent in the new show, by design.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *