We can all breathe a little easier today: Jay Leno can tell Michael Jackson jokes again. On Friday (March 11), Judge Rodney S. Melville clarified an earlier gag order preventing people involved with the case from discussing it.
Because Leno has been named as a potential witness in Jackson’s trial, the “Tonight Show” host had been worried the gag order would prevent him from taking aim at one of his favorite targets. Leno’s filed a motion seeking an exemption from the gag order.
“I am not attempting to prevent anybody from making a living in the normal way that they make their living,” Melville said, according to media reports. The judge added, though, that Leno cannot joke about things that he was a witness to.
Leno had been carrying on despite the gag order. Leno brought in guest hosts such as Brad Garrett and Drew Carey to deliver jokes about the King of Pop. In addition, in a staged bit, Leno arrived late for Thursday night’s show wearing SpongeBob pajamas, a not-so-subtle reference to Jackson’s own much-discussed Thursday court appearance.
“We are happy the judge confirmed that the gag order in this case does not prevent Jay Leno from continuing to entertain the country with humor and commentary about the Michael Jackson trial just as he does with the other news events of the day,” said NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker in a statement.