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Jay Leno Caught Stealing

THE WRAP


That Jay Leno steals jokes shouldn’t surprise anyone anymore — not even Taylor Swift.

This week, Leno stole a bit for “The Tonight Show” from a VH1 blogger, got caught and — unlike his years of mugging David Letterman and Howard Stern — was forced to admit it.

On Monday’s show, Leno played a series of video clips for Swift of the country-pop starlet’s surprised reactions to winning various awards. When Leno showed the clip to Swift, he told her, “We put together a little montage of you being surprised.”

Leno was using “we” pretty loosely. The bit was taken from Rich Juzwiak’s FourFour.com blog, which posted the montage last week under the heading, “Taylor Swift is surprised.” (It was also posted by VH1.com, where Juzwiak is a senior editor.)

Juzwiak explained what happened next:

Sean O’Rourke, a research coordinator for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno reached out to me for permission to show my Taylor Swift Is Surprised video during an upcoming sit-down interview with the pop star. … Sean assured me I and/or my blog would get credit. Duh squared, that wasn’t even a concern. … In my response, I stressed how important it was for my friend Kate Spencer (who came up with the idea for the video in the first place) to be credited, too. … Sean warned me that he couldn’t promise any specific mention from Jay, but at the very least, our names would appear in the show’s credits. Since Jay Leno tends toward the diabolical, I wasn’t going to get my hopes up that he’d actually say my name on air.

But Leno nor “The Tonight Show” credits made any mention of Juzwiak or Kate Spencer.

What surprised me the most wasn’t so much that Kate and I weren’t mentioned, but that the video wasn’t credited as having originated on the Internet. This is not an obscure work — it’s racked up over 200,000 views in a week! I thought at the very least, he’d give and indication of this thing’s preexistence so that his viewers could hunt it down if they were so inclined. That was, apparently, expecting too much.

During the credits on Tuesday’s “Tonight Show,” Juzwiak and Spencer are credited. (Click here to see the screengrab.)

It’s not the first time Juzwiak has had to fight for credit — in May, Juzwiak had a dust-up with NPR over crediting for a segment about horror movies.

And it’s not the first time Leno has stolen material and presented it as his own.

For starters, Leno’s “Headlines” segment was directly lifted from Letterman’s “Small Town News.”

Howard Stern has long complained about Leno’s thievery — and claims Leno’s “Jaywalking” bit is based directly on the Stern show’s popular “Homeless Game.”

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