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Jay Leno addresses Joan Rivers ban on 'Tonight Show'

Jay Leno performs during the Carousel of Hope

Jay Leno performs during the Carousel of Hope Ball at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in [Beverly Hills, Calif. Photo Credit: AP / Chris Pizzello

Jay Leno says he never had an agreement with Johnny Carson to keep Joan Rivers off "The Tonight Show," a ban Carson had initiated after Rivers started her own ill-fated talk show in 1986.

"No, no, no, it never even came up," Leno told "Access Hollywood." "Nothing was ever said. We just didn't do it [talk about it]."

He explained, "I didn't want to do it while Johnny was alive, out of respect for Johnny. I don't think he wanted to see her on the show."

After Carson died in 2005, "It got a little awkward," Leno conceded. "By that point, Joan was sort of going on and on about me and I felt, well, let's let the ground lie fallow for awhile and we'll see what happens." He added, "But she always kind of kept it going. And I like Joan -- I mean . . . [hers] was the first autograph I ever got. . . . And we were friends." But as time went on, "It just got to be awkward and we just never did it."

In other Leno news, CNBC officially confirmed Wednesday that the comedian will host a series next year titled "Jay Leno's Garage."

"This show will be about anything that rolls, explodes and makes noise," Leno said. "We hope to highlight the passion and the stories behind the men and women who made the automobile the greatest invention of the 20th century."

With Verne Gay

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