TV News

Jay Leno Criticized for Remarks to Ryan Phillippe

04/01/2008 at 12:15 PM EDT


Jay Leno's nice-guy reputation is taking a beating from the gay community and others after NBC's Tonight Show host made some recent on-air remarks deemed highly inappropriate.

Apparently attempting to become playful during his interview with guest Ryan Phillippe (whose appearance was keyed to his new movie Stop-Loss), Leno, 57, said to the actor, "Can you give me, like – say that camera is your gay lover ..."

Despite Phillippe's instant discomfort, Leno went on to say, "Can you give me your 'gayest look'? Say that camera is Billy Bob – Billy Bob has just ridden in shirtless from Wyoming."

"Wow," replied Phillippe, 33. "That is so something I don't want to do. Are you just going to embarrass me tonight, or ... ?"

"No," said Leno. "I got more stuff. This is the least of it."

Among those in the home audience who quickly took offense, reports USA Today, was Tony-winning Avenue Q librettist Jeff Whitty, 36.

On his personal blog, Whitty flashes Leno what he considers his "gayest look" – which involves a well-known gesture with his middle finger. Whitty also asks, "Would you ask a guest to make their 'blackest face?' Their 'Jewiest face?' "

Following suit, others have posted their "gayest looks" for Leno – also involving the same gesture – at the newly created Web site, My Gayest Look.

Leno and his reps have not responded to requests for comment.

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