Jay Leno stopped by for tonight’s taping to surprise Arsenio Hall with the announcement that CBS Television Distribution renewed The Arsenio Hall Show for a second season. (The show already had a two-year deal with the stations led …
In his debut as host of NBC‘s The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon paid homage to the show’s storied tradition while also bringing the energy that marked his stint on Late Night. Fallon started off his very first Tonight Show thanking his predecessors “Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno,” in a broadcast that had all of late-night TV’s familiar trappings — the band, the monologue, the couch, the desk — and featured surprise appearances including Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Seth Rogen, Kim Kardashian, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Mike Tyson, and Lady Gaga, who joined first guests Will Smith and U2. The intro directed by Spike Lee reminds viewers that Tonight is back in New York City by showing Fallon in familiar spots including Katz’s Deli. The theme carries over to the spare, elegant set designed by Eugene Lee with its behind-the-desk images of the skyline and wood carvings of some landmarks. (The desk includes a laptop computer to Fallon’s left.) The Roots played the host on with a new theme song that owes a lot to Motown.
The host wore a gray suit with a white shirt and black tie. In a sentimental opening, without apparent irony, he talked about his “great childhood” in Saugerties, NY, where he would not have predicted that he would graduate high school and go on to host The Tonight Show. “I would have said, ‘I graduated high school?” Fallon also thanked his wife and daughter and his parents, who were in the audience. “I wish I could have gotten you better seats, but it’s a hot show, Dad. I hope you’re proud of me. I know you are.” Fallon also praised his band who, he said, “can play with Tony Bennett [and] they can play with Jay-Z without blinking an eye.” He also thanked his announcer Steve Higgins, “one of my best friends, and I love you. It’s going to be fun.” Fallon recalled staying up late to watch Johnny Carson. Hosting the show “means a lot to me. I hope I do well,” he said. “I just want to do the best I can and take care of the show for a while.” He added that “anyone I can make fun of I will … so you go to sleep with a smile on your face and live a longer life.”
Thanks to all our friends who stopped by tonight! And special thanks to everyone who tuned in for our very first episode! #FallonTonight
— Fallon Tonight (@FallonTonight) February 18, 2014
Jay Leno Bows Out With Biggest ‘Tonight Show’ Week In Decades; Ditto Jimmy Fallon’s ‘Late Night’ Swan Song
Jay Leno‘s Tonight Show swan song churned up the franchise’s biggest weekly crowd since the week of NBC’s Cheers finale in ’93. Meanwhile, his replacement, Jimmy Fallon wrapped his Late Night hosting gig with that show’s biggest weekly haul since it followed Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show farewell, in May of ’92.
Leno’s actual Thursday night finale last week clocked the biggest crowd for an individual Tonight show broadcast since Jerry Seinfeld turned up after his primetime hit’s so-long episode, on May 14, 1998.
Jay Leno’s ‘Tonight Show’ Finale: Billy Crystal’s Celebrity Musical Featuring Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, Jack Black (Video)
As a parting gift, Billy Crystal and the Shut Your Von Trapp Family Singers sang “So Long Farewell” to Jay Leno. Here is the video featuring Crystal, Jack Black, Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian, Chris Paul, Sheryl Crow, Carol Burnett and Jim Parsons. (Musical number starts after the 2 min mark):
Jay Leno’s Final ‘Tonight Show’: Obama Appoints Him Ambassador To Antarctica While Billy Crystal, Oprah Winfrey, Garth Brooks And More Serenade Host: Video
“I don’t like goodbyes – NBC does – but I don’t care for them,” an emotional Jay Leno said, kicking off a star-studded final broadcast show as host of The Tonight Show. “Tonight is our last show for real. I don’t need to be fired three times — I get the hint,” Leno joked to a friends-and-family studio audience as he ended his 22-year run Thursday night. It’s his second very-last-time-as-host — having been pushed aside in 2009 by NBC to make way for Conan O’Brien, who lasted seven months.
“I’ve got to tell you, the outpouring from people has really been touching. Anthony Weiner sent me a photo of his penis looking really sad.”
In sharp contrast to the “last” time Leno celebrated his very last night as host of Tonight Show in 2009 — when, ever the team player, he had O’Brien as his final night’s guest — tonight’s show was packed with celebrities including President Obama. Longtime pal Garth Brooks performed his hit “The Dance.” And a cast of A-listers including Oprah Winfrey, Jack Black and Carol Burnett performed with Billy Crystal and The Shut Your Von Trapp Family Singers, the Rogers & Hammerstein tune from The Sound Of Music, “So Long, Farewell” with lyrics changed to suit the occasion. (Watch a clip below.) The show ended with Leno in tears as he thanked the audience, calling the Tonight Show crew his family and wishing his successor Jimmy Fallon well. (Video at the end of the post.)
But first, Leno mulled exactly how long 22 years is.
- “Here’s how long ago it is. When I started hosting, marijuana was illegal and you could smoke cigarettes anywhere you wanted.”
- “Twenty two years ago, guys actually had to go to newsstands for porn, can you imagine?”
- “So much has happened. You know the saddest part – OJ never found the real killers.”
His Tonight Show predecessor often had fun with “beautiful downtown Burbank,” but tonight Jay Leno likely agrees with that sentiment. NBC organized a glowing tribute to the departing host of its late-night staple, using the city’s tallest building to spell out “THX JAY!” in lights. The display will …
Most of the coverage has been about Leno taking with him a commanding ratings lead in late-night, not only among total viewers but also in the 18-49 age bracket advertisers covet. And in the days leading up to his exit, The Reporters Who Cover Television dusted off think pieces about Leno leaving the show in the wake of a demographic shift affecting millions of baby boomers who are being pushed aside to make way for a younger generation with different sensibilities. In many ways, Leno’s handoff to Fallon does mirror the first time the press wrote those think pieces, when NBC replaced Leno with his lead-out, Conan O’Brien in 2009 – a plan that famously flamed out over seven months.
But the bigger news here is the incredible gift Leno’s been given: a handoff do-over.
It’s a loaded gift for Leno. He owes much of his ratings success, and longevity, to the fact that he’s much adored in flyover country — Leno won last month’s 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll asking which late-night host was most likely to make you laugh, handily beating his latest replacement Fallon, his first replacement O’Brien, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, and Craig Ferguson. But the media doesn’t like Leno so much, having pegged him decades ago as the closet-hiding, eavesdropper who backstabbed their late-night crushes Letterman and, later, O’Brien.
Since 1992, Jay Leno‘s top Tonight Show opening monologue target has been Bill Clinton, according to a study released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson topped his list of celebrity targets, but their tally is chump change compared to Clinton’s, according to the study that tracked nearly 44,000 Tonight Show jokes.
Clinton was the subject of one out of every 10 gags about public affairs and/or public figures in his monologues, and O.J. Simpson was his top celebrity target. The study tallied 43,892 jokes about public figures and public affairs from 1992, when Leno became host of Tonight Show, through January 24, 2014.
Clinton accounts for 4,607 of that joke total. For comparison sake, George W. Bush came in for 3,239 jabs, and Jay targeted Kim Kardashian a total of just 57 times, according to the study. Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Clinton’s VPOTUS Al Gore, and Monica Lewinsky accounted for four of Leno’s top seven targets. Overall, the Top-20 list includes the past four presidents and vice-presidents, as well as the past six failed major party nominees for president. Democrats were the targets of 10,885 jokes, 15% more than the 9,465 jokes directed at Republicans. The study says that’s because Leno frequently targeted presidents and Democrats occupied the White House in 13 of his 22 years as Tonight Show host.
JAY LENO’s TOP 20 POLITICAL JOKE TARGETS:
On Jay Leno‘s last Tonight Show Tuesday, some of Jay’s favorite guest appearances were shown: President Obama reminiscing about when he and Donald Trump grew up together in Kenya, John Kennedy Jr. and Jerry Seinfeld reminiscing about Seinfeld’s Contest’s episode, former President George W. Bush giving Jay a …
“Jimmy Fallon is here tonight. He’s not here to talk — he’s helping me pack,” Jay Leno told his audience tonight on his final Monday as anchor of NBC’s Tonight Show. “You know Jimmy starts as new host of Tonight Show on the 17th – and it would be strange if there was some accident and he was not able to … fulfill his duties as host,” Leno joked. Also guesting tonight: Betty White. “Betty White is 92 – in TV terms, Betty has lived through through six Tonight Show hosts,” he observed.
“You were lucky to get out of New York today — huge storm,” Leno began when Fallon came out and sat down. “Yeah. Had to be here. Your last week. This means a lot to me,” Fallon said, with no trace of irony. “Did you watch the game?” Leno asked, in re Sunday’s Super Bowl. “I missed a little … because I was flying,” Fallon admitted. “You’re on the cover of my bible – Men’s Health,” Leno said, producing a copy of the issue. “Something made me smile about this. … Is that a gold chain around your neck?” Leno teased, pointing to the cover photo of Fallon. “And, it’s a little touched up.”
Jay Leno says farewell – again – to the Tonight Show desk on February 6, just four years after returning to the NBC show after the network booted him in favor of Conan O’Brien. “First time, I got blindsided,” Leno told 60 Minutes in an exit interview airing Sunday. The network gave him notice in 2004 that he’d be out after another four years. “‘You’re fired four years from right now,’” he recalled being told. “I said, ‘Sure.’ I said at the time I was going to do a half hour. And I believe Conan was going to follow later. He didn’t want to do that. He quit. And so they gave me the show back.” After a disastrous run on primetime in 2009 with The Jay Leno Show, NBC gave Leno back the Tonight Show chair. Last April they announced they were ousting Leno again in favor of the younger Jimmy Fallon. “It’s not my decision,” said Leno. “And I think I probably would have stayed if we didn’t have… an extremely qualified, young guy ready to jump in. If they said, ‘Look, you’re fired. We don’t know who we’re going to get. We don’t know what we’re going to put in there. But anybody but you, we just want you out of–’ I would be hurt and offended. But this makes perfect sense to me. I understand this.”