December 10, 2018

Bill Maher Defends Jay Leno at 2014 Hall of Fame Gala

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. –  Bill Maher inducts Jay Leno Tuesday night at the 23rd Hall of Fame gala hosted by The Television Academy.

A-list talent, media moguls, and network executives gathered together at the Regent Beverly Wilshire to celebrate the 23rd annual Hall of Fame awards, presented by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ selection committee.

Before Bill Maher introduced and inducted the former Tonight Show host, he delivered a comedic but heartfelt speech, explaining why the criticism Leno received after the Conan O’Brien feud was unwarranted.

Maher, host of HBO's Real Time, even mocked Conan, poking fun at the idea that Leno “stole [Conan’s] dream.”
“Hollywood IS a zero-sum [game],” said Maher.  

“Jay Leno reminds me a little bit of Israel,” Maher said. “He's not perfect, but he's held to a standard nobody is expected to live up to but him.”

Among attendees were some of television—and Hollywood’s—biggest names. Michelle Pfieffer accompanied her husband, writer-producer David E. Kelley, a Hall of Fame inductee.

Rupert Murdoch, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and former ABC executive Brandon Stoddard were also inducted into the Hall of Fame. On behalf of sound engineer Ray Dolby, his wife, Dagmar, and son David accepted his award.

“I got into television because I believe in providing consumers with a choice,” said Murdoch. He acknowledged the changes that are currently revamping TV in its Golden Age. “This is a revolution still in its infancy.”

Lightening the mood of the evening with her quirky humor,  Amy Poehler, who was on stage introducing Julia-Louis Dreyfus, ended her speech: “We all know that movies are dumb and TV is awesome.”

Past Hall of Fame honorees include Lucille Ball, Bob Hope and Bill Cosby.


Nicole Behnam with Bill Maher