Jay Leno Can't Bring Himself to Call Conan O'Brien

01/27/2010 at 02:30 PM EST

Jay Leno Can't Bring Himself to Call Conan O'Brien
Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey
Justin Lubin/NBC; Harpo Productions/AP
The two most-discussed talk-show hosts aren't talking – to each other, that is.

In his first interview since NBC's recent late-night programming fiasco, Jay Leno told Oprah Winfrey that he hasn't spoken to ousted Tonight Show host Conan O'Brien throughout the public-relations nightmare that ended with O'Brien's Jan. 22 departure from NBC.

Leno, who will appear on Thursday's Oprah Winfrey Show – filmed on the Jay Leno Show set in Burbank – told Winfrey he was tempted to reach out to O'Brien, but "it didn't seem appropriate."

Leno, who in March is set to return to the 11:35 p.m. program he hosted for 17 years, said he prefers to "let things cool down" before approaching his former NBC colleague, adding "maybe we'll talk, you know."

When O'Brien took his last curtain call, it followed several shows sprinkled with barbs aimed squarely at Leno. Leno told Winfrey that while the jabs may have stung, "They were jokes. And that's okay."

Likening the banter to a blood-sport, Leno said, "It's like being a fighter and say when you got punched in the head, did it hurt? Well, yeah. But you're a fighter. That's what you do."

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