Jay Leno aims for bedtime with new storybook

Saturday, March 27, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- Long before Jay Leno entertains the adults on "The Tonight Show," the comedian can put the kids to bed with his new storybook.

Leno has written a new picture book called "If Roast Beef Could Fly," based on a real family cookout from his childhood in which mischief led to a ruined rotisserie of meat.

Leno decided the tale of his family's ruined roast beef might make for a few laughs. "I picked this one ... and everything sort of came together."

In the story, readers see Leno's mother -- described as a thrifty, reserved matriarch -- and his over-enthusiastic father, whose big ideas are sometimes too big for reality.

The story involves his father's efforts to build a new patio with a barbecue rotisserie.

The story reaches its climax during a big family dinner:

"I was a little kid and I was fascinated by the roast beef going around the spit," Leno said. "So I took out my little plastic comb and stuck it in the meat. At one point the comb caught on the string used to tie the roast beef. So I went, 'Uh oh,' and I didn't want to break the motor. So I said, 'OK,' and I walked away."

"When my dad brought the roast beef out, he started to cut it and then -- clunk! A big piece of plastic fell off and the meat was pink underneath," Leno said. "My dad started yelling in Italian, picked up the roast beef and threw it out the window.

"Everybody was stunned. Then everybody started laughing."

: 'What was that?' And my father would go, 'Oh come on ... grumble, grumble ...' He'd lose his temper, then it would go away right away."

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