Jay's Jinx

The king of late night loses his manager after 17 profitable years

EVEN IN HOLLYWOOD, FEW WOULD RECOGNIZE HELEN Kushnick if they passed her on the street. But they all know the talented young comic she discovered two decades ago and guided to glory. Weathering a Sophoclean series of tragedies (her son's death from AIDS in 1983, her husband's death from cancer in 1989), Kushnick became the executive producer of the legendary Tonight show when her protege, Jay Leno, succeeded Johnny Carson in May. Then with an almost willful recklessness, Kushnick reportedly began demanding that stars who wanted to appear with Leno on the Tonight show had to boycott his competitors -- especially...

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