Jay Leno comes to James Corden’s defence amid restaurant row

In order to understand why Jay Leno has said anything at all about how “wonderful” a man James Corden may be, we’ll need to rewind the clock.

Earlier this month, Keith McNally – owner of the New York City brasserie Balthazar – publicly banned Corden from his restaurants over his treatment of the Balthazar staff.

A day after imposing the ban, McNally rescinced his decision after Corden called him to “apologise profusely” for the misunderstanding. We all believed that the drama had come to an end.

It did not.

Shortly afterwards, Corden told a New York Times reporter who was worried that the late-night host might cancel their interview over the kerfuffle: “I haven’t done anything wrong, on any level. So why would I ever cancel this?” He also called the debate over whether or not he had in fact verbally abused the restuarant’s waitstaff “silly”.

McNally, a resident of the city in which that major American newspaper is published and a very active guy on social media, somehow caught wind of Corden’s remarks. In response, he posted on Instagram to ask: “Is he joking?” Game on, Corden.

On Monday night (24 October), with nowhere else left to turn, Corden addressed the incident on his late-night show. If you can’t beat them, you can at least turn them into content.

He admitted to being rude to the Balthazar staff, though he did so in a curious fashion – taking care to mention all of the ways he could have theoretically been rude, but was not, in fact, rude. “Because I didn’t shout or scream, I didn’t get out of my seat, I didn’t call anyone names or use derogatory language, I’ve been walking around thinking that I haven’t done anything wrong,” he said on the show.

Keith McNally responds to James Corden’s dismissal of staff mistreatment allegations as ‘silly’ (Getty / Instagram)
Keith McNally responds to James Corden’s dismissal of staff mistreatment allegations as ‘silly’ (Getty / Instagram)

“But the truth is I have made a rude, rude comment. And it was wrong. It was an unnecessary comment, it was ungracious to the server.” Surely now, the drama will come to an end.

This brings us to Jay Leno, a former US late-night host who seemingly can’t quit weighing in on the news of the day. Speaking at a Los Angeles charity event on Wednesday night (26 October), he defended Corden and also admitted that he had no business defending anyone at all.

“It just made me laugh,” Leno said to People magazine. “I know James. He's been wonderful to me. I never saw it, but when you're in my city, you don't see that side of people, so I have no idea.”

This story will be updated should McNally or Corden respond. Again.