This end to “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” is looking a lot different than the last end of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
When NBC approached the end of Leno‘s first run on “Tonight” in 2009, Leno made a lot of noise about how he wasn’t all that interested in leaving, NBC got scared he would jump to a rival network, and viewers had to suffer “The Jay Leno Show” debacle and the aborted Conan O’Brien tenure on “Tonight.”
This time, though? Everyone seems at peace with the decision, and on Sunday (Jan. 19), NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt had many kind words for Leno.
“This network has been incredibly fortunate to have had a talent like Jay on our team since 1992,” Greenblatt says. “He’s kept ‘The Tonight Show’ No. 1 for virtually its entire run. He’s been a fixture at this company and in people’s bedrooms for more than two decades.
“… It is no exaggeration to say Jay Leno is the hardest-working man in television. The very definition of a team player, and to those who know him personally, and I’m happy now to include myself in that group, he’s truly one of the nicest and most decent people in this business.”
Greenblatt says NBC won’t speak formally with Leno about staying at the network until after his “Tonight” tenure ends on Feb. 6, but he’s definitely interested.
“I would love him to do specials with us. We’ve got ideas about other sorts of shows he could host,” Greenblatt says. “… We program a lot of things in a given year, and there are a number of things he could be part of.”
NBC has also released the guest lineup for Leno’s final week of shows:
Monday, Feb. 3: Jimmy Fallon, Betty White
Tuesday, Feb. 4: Matthew McConaughey, Charles Barkley, Lyle Lovett
Wednesday, Feb. 5: Sandra Bullock, Blake Shelton
Thursday, Feb. 6: Billy Crystal (who was Leno’s first “Tonight Show” guest in 1992), Garth Brooks