A Brief History
On February 6, 2014, one year ago today, Jay Leno ended his run as host of The Tonight Show for the second time. The affable comedian who had made “Headlines” a treasured feature of the show first made headlines himself when he retired for the first time in 2009 after having hosted the show since 1992 upon Johnny Carson’s retirement.
When The Tonight Show’s rating began to suffer under Lenos’ successor Conan O’Brien, Leno asked to come back, and NBC shocked O’Brien and the public by granting Leno his wish. Unfortunately, Leno’s reputation suffered terribly as a result of the perception that he took his old job back like a spoiled child without regard for the well being of O’Brien and his team. A certain amount of luster was now gone from Leno’s previously sterling reputation. Many Hollywood television and movie celebrities took sides in the Jay vs. Conan fiasco, with Rosie O’Donnell in the anti-Leno camp, calling him a bully, while Jerry Seinfeld supported Jay. Personally, I would rather have the support of Seinfeld…
Still, Jay Leno, born James Douglas Muir Leno in 1950, is a decent person and a funny guy. His weekly routine of reading ridiculous, but real headlines from news stories and advertisements was one of the funniest things to look forward to on television (according to the experts at History and Headlines). Another routine, one he called “Jaywalking,” where he would interview average people out on the street, was a real eye opener that revealed just how little many Americans know about event, be they historical or even current.
Jay Leno is also a famous motor vehicle collector, and he owns nearly 300 cars and motorcycles. He has his own website dedicated to vintage vehicles and even writes for the Sunday Times and Popular Mechanics about the subject. His $30 million plus annual income has allowed him to be quite generous, and he has not shied away from charitable promotions.
Leno’s television career is not limited to The Tonight Show as he has appeared on many talk shows, children’s shows and other programs either in person or by lending his voice. He has been involved in one capacity or another in at least 3 dozen movies.
Question for students (and subscribers): What do you think about the NBC handling of the Tonight Show? Should Leno have stayed retired and Conan continued, or are you ok with what transpired? Let us know your opinion, and while you are at it, how about that Jimmy Fallon? He seems to be doing a great job in that prestigious seat behind The Tonight Show desk. Do you agree? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Berg, Dave and Jay Leno. Behind the Curtain: An Insider’s View of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. Pelican Publishing, 2014.