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Andy Richter talks NBC, Jay Leno, and touring with Conan on 'Regis and Kelly'

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Andy Richter subbed for a vacationing Regis Philbin today on Live! With Regis and Kelly, and though he joked about needing to tread lightly — “I have children! I still need work!” — he spoke candidly about Jay Leno’s return to The Tonight Show. (Video after the jump.) Asked by Kelly Ripa if he harbored any ill feelings toward NBC and Leno, he answered “Yes. Yes, I do.” He explained the short-sighted logic behind the network giving Leno a 10 p.m. chat show to save money, and how we should interpret the network’s decision to fault Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show for its own drop in ratings. “The thing about network television is, if they like a show, if there’s extenuating circumstances they’ll say, ‘Well, you have to think about the extenuating circumstances.’ Like for us, our low ratings being a result of our low lead-in. But if they don’t like the show, they’ll say, ‘Well, they couldn’t get the ratings.’ Which they weren’t saying that about the local news…. Like all of a sudden, the local news somehow got bad. Like the local news got 25 to 50 percent worse than it was.”

Of Leno he said: “It’s very frustrating when somebody says, and especially when they’re on videotape saying, ‘I’m gonna take this No. 1 show and hand it over and hope that the next guy makes it a No. 1 show’ and then doesn’t, and says things like, ‘You know, well, I didn’t have any choice. They wouldn’t let me out of my contract.’ Which, you know how multi-millionaires are always being forced to do things they don’t want to do. It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating.”

Ripa also asked if the rumors of Conan O’Brien and Richter touring were true. Andy played coy at first but then said, “It is a distinct possibility.” The two eventually moved on to other hot topics, like breast milk cheese (which they sampled). Shockingly, Conan has yet to tweet about that.