The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Wikis


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The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno 2010-Intertitle.jpg
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno intertitle since 2010
Format Talk show
Variety show
Presented by Jay Leno
Starring Branford Marsalis (1992–1995)
Kevin Eubanks (1995–2009; 2010–present)
Narrated by Edd Hall (1992–2004)
John Melendez (2004–2009)
Wally Wingert (2010–present)
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 18
No. of episodes 3,787 [1] (List of episodes)
Location(s) NBC Studios, Burbank, California
Studio 3 (1992–2009)
Studio 11 (2010–present)
Running time 62 min. (with commercials)
Original channel NBC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original run May 25, 1992 – May 29, 2009
March 1, 2010 – present
Preceded by The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
Followed by The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
Related shows The Jay Leno Show
External links
Official website

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jay Leno that initially aired from May 25, 1992 to May 29, 2009, and resumed production on March 1, 2010. This sixth and eighth incarnation of the Tonight Show franchise made its debut on May 25, 1992, following Johnny Carson's retirement as host of The Tonight Show. The nightly broadcast at 11:35 p.m. (Eastern) originated from NBC's studios, in Burbank, California and ran until May 29, 2009. Its successor program, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien premiered on June 1, 2009 and ended on January 22, 2010. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno then began its current incarnation.

On April 26, 1999, the show began broadcasting in 1080i HDTV, becoming the first American nightly talk show to be shot in high definition. The show is shot in 16:9 aspect ratio.

Leno's incarnation of The Tonight Show followed the same basic format as that of his predecessors: an opening monologue followed by comedy routines, interviews and performances. Unlike Jack Paar or Johnny Carson, however, Leno only once utilized a guest host, preferring to host the series by himself (see "notable episodes" below).

NBC announced in 2004 that Leno would leave The Tonight Show at the end of May 2009, handing the reins to Conan O'Brien. Leno also made an announcement on his show promising a smooth transition and that he was pleased with this decision[2]. He later admitted in 2010 that this was a "little white lie" and that he did not actually wished to step down.[3]. Leno's last episode aired on May 29, 2009. However, following rumors of Leno being interested in moving elsewhere to launch a competing program, NBC signed Leno to a new deal for a nightly talk show in the 10:00 p.m. ET timeslot. The primetime series, titled The Jay Leno Show, debuted on September 14, 2009,[4] following a similar format to the Leno incarnation of Tonight.[5][6][7]

On January 7, 2010, multiple media outlets reported that effective March 1, 2010, The Jay Leno Show would be moved from the 10pm (Eastern/Pacific Time) weeknight time slot to 11:35pm and O'Brien's The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien would be moved from 11:35pm to 12:05am.[8][9][10] On January 12, 2010, O'Brien publicly announced in an open letter that he intended to leave NBC if they moved The Tonight Show to 12:05AM ET/PT in order to accommodate moving The Jay Leno Show to 11:35PM Eastern/10:35PM Central.[11] After several days of negotiations, O'Brien reached a settlement with NBC that allowed him to leave NBC and The Tonight Show on January 22, 2010.[12] Leno began his second tenure as host of The Tonight Show on March 1, 2010, after the 2010 Winter Olympics.[13]



The show follows an established six-piece format. The first segment is a monologue by Leno, with quick one-liners about current events and brief comedy sketches occasionally mixed in. Unlike fellow late-night comics David Letterman or Conan O'Brien, Leno—with his background in stand-up comedy—emphasizes the monologue perhaps more than any other segment in the show, usually telling jokes for the first six or ten minutes of the broadcast. The second segment is a full comedy sketch, often a mini-documentary by a "Tonight Show correspondent" (e.g., Ross the Intern or Tom Green), or a trademark of Leno's, like "Headlines."

As the nightly broadcast approaches midnight, the first guest appears. The interview is divided into two segments, then followed by the fifth segment, which is the interview of the second guest. The sixth and final segment is almost always a musical performance, but occasionally, a stand-up comedian will perform instead.

Immediately following the last performance segment, Leno walks on camera to thank the performers, bid farewell to the audience and recommends watching Late Night which immediately follows The Tonight Show. As the closing credits roll on-screen, the gentle strains of The Tonight Show's closing theme music, "Kevin's Country" — composed in 1992 by Tonight Show Band leader Kevin Eubanks[14] — played the show off the air during the first incarnation. During the second incarnation, a lighter version of the main theme plays the show off the air.

Recurring segments

  • Headlines- Jay Leno reads goofy headlines from across America. Usually airs on Mondays.
  • Jaywalking- Jay Leno asks simple questions to random people.

Notable episodes

  • On May 12, 2003, Leno and Katie Couric swapped places as a publicity stunt, with Leno anchoring The Today Show and Couric guest hosting "The Tonight Show". This was the only episode during Leno's tenure to feature a guest host.[15] The guests were Mike Myers and Simon Cowell that day.
  • On July 20, 2006, as Colin Farrell was being interviewed by Leno, Farrell's stalker, Dessarae Bradford, evaded security, walked on stage as cameras were rolling, confronted Farrell, and threw her book on Leno's desk. In front of a silent, stunned audience, Farrell escorted her off the stage himself, told the camera crew to stop filming, and handed her over to security. As Bradford was led out of the studio, she shouted "I'll see you in court!" Farrell's response was a smooth, "Darling, you're insane!" Outside the studio, NBC security handed her to Burbank police, who eventually released her. While waiting to begin filming again, a shocked Leno sarcastically called for "a round of applause for NBC security" from the audience. After Farrell apologized to the audience, describing Bradford as, "my first stalker," the show then continued filming and the incident was edited out of the broadcast aired that night. Farrell later requested a restraining order in court against Bradford.[16]
  • On January 2, 2008, The Tonight Show (along with Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night with Conan O'Brien) returned to air without writers, with the WGA still on strike. This was in response to the deal by David Letterman's production company Worldwide Pants with the WGA to allow the Late Show with David Letterman and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to return with writers.[citation needed] Leno's guest that night, Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, was criticized for crossing the WGA picket line to appear on the show.[17] Huckabee would go on to win the Iowa caucuses the very next day.[18]


On September 22, 2006, Variety reported that The Tonight Show led in ratings for the 11th consecutive season, with a nightly average of 5.7 million viewers – 31% of the total audience in that time slot – compared to 4.2 million viewers for the Late Show with David Letterman, 3.4 million for Nightline and 1.6 million for Jimmy Kimmel Live. When Leno's show initially directly faced Letterman's, Letterman led in ratings. Two events helped Leno gain and keep the lead: A new set brought Leno closer to the audience, and Hugh Grant kept his July 10, 1995 scheduled appearance despite having been arrested for seeing a prostitute. Leno famously asked Grant "What the hell were you thinking?"[21]

The final telecast of the first incarnation of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno had the show's highest overnight household rating for a Friday episode in the comedian's 17-year run as host of Tonight, averaging an 8.8 rating in metered-market households.[22] Since his return to The Tonight Show, Jay Leno has beaten Letterman in the overall ratings each night.[23]


Succession from Carson

Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show on May 22, 1992, and was replaced by Jay Leno amid controversy. David Letterman not only wanted to move into that earlier time slot from his late night spot after The Tonight Show, but was also considered by Carson and others as the natural successor[24] (despite Leno having been Carson's permanent guest host for several years). Letterman, having had his heart set on the earlier time slot, left NBC and joined CBS. Late Show with David Letterman, airing in the same slot, has been competing head to head against The Tonight Show ever since. Conan O'Brien slid into the late night time slot vacated by Letterman.

Intertitle of the first incarnation.

End of Leno on Tonight

Would I have preferred to stay at 11:30? Yeah, sure. I would have preferred that.

—Leno in a November 2009 interview[25]

On September 27, 2004, the 50th anniversary of The Tonight Show's debut, NBC announced that Jay Leno would be succeeded by Conan O'Brien, in 2009. Leno explained that he did not want to see a repeat of the hard feelings and controversy that occurred when he was given the show over David Letterman following Carson's retirement.[26][27]

It was announced on July 21, 2008 that Jay Leno would host his final episode of The Tonight Show on Friday, May 29, 2009 with Conan O'Brien and James Taylor as his guests.[28] O'Brien took over hosting duties commencing the following Monday, on June 1, 2009. On December 9, 2008, it was announced that Jay Leno will be hosting a new nightly show in September, 2009, which aired at 10pm EST, during the network's prime time period. The Jay Leno Show ended after a short run on February 9, 2010.[5]

WGA strike

Production of new episodes was suspended due to the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike. Leno, himself a member of the Guild, decided to honor the picket lines, resulting in the show going into repeats, effective November 5. Shortly after the strike started, it was rumored that guest hosts would fill in for Leno during the duration of the strike, beginning November 19, 2007.[29] The show aired reruns from different periods of Leno's tenure as host until January 2, 2008, when after two months the show returned with Leno writing his own lines without using replacement writers.[30]

Succession from O'Brien

After The Jay Leno Show and its lower ratings caused a domino effect on late local news, NBC affiliates demanded changes. NBC announced its intention to move Leno to 11:35 and cut the program to a half-hour to be followed by Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show at 12:05. O'Brien refused to host his show at that time and, on January 21, 2010, reached an agreement with NBC allowing him to leave the network.

Second tenure

On January 21, 2010 NBC announced that Jay Leno would return to The Tonight Show. Jay Leno began his second tenure on March 1, 2010.[31] The show now originates from the former home of The Jay Leno Show, with a similar set and theme song of The Jay Leno Show.

Tonight Show in other countries

CNBC Europe

  • CNBC Europe confirmed they would show The Tonight Show when Conan O'Brien, took over from Jay Leno in June 2009. After Jay Leno returned, they have been showing The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Other channels

The Tonight Show was broadcast in Australia by The Comedy Channel along with Late Night for much of its original run.

In Italy (with Italian subtitles) until 2005 when RaiSat Extra cancelled the program.[32]

In Sweden, Kanal 5 started airing The Tonight Show every night Monday to Friday with a one week delay in 2000. The show was also retitled "Jay Leno Show". In 2008, Kanal 5 chose to replace it with Jimmy Kimmel Live, and moved The Tonight Show to their sister channel Kanal 9, with a rerun aired the next day on Kanal 5.[33]

In the Philippines, the channel etc broadcasted the Tonight Show from 2004 until 2007, when the show was turned over to sister channel JackTV.


  1. ^ The Official Show Calendar
  2. ^ "O'Brien to replace Leno on 'The Tonight Show'". CNN. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  3. ^ "Leno to Oprah: 'This was a huge mess'". CNN. Retrieved 2010-03-16. 
  4. ^ "The Jay Leno Show". Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  5. ^ a b "Jay Leno Taking Over 10 P.M. On NBC". BroadcastingCable. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  6. ^ Carter, Bill (2008-12-09). "Where Is Leno Going? To Prime Time, on NBC". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  7. ^ "Jay Leno Comes to Primetime on NBC". NBC. 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  8. ^ LA Times article: "Future For NBC's Tonight Show Up In The Air".
  9. ^ Access Hollywood article: "Jay Leno Heading Back To Late Night, Conan O’Brien Weighing Options".
  10. ^ Carter, Bill (January 24, 2010). "O’Brien Undone by His Media-Hopping Fans". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  11. ^ Conan O'Brien: I Won't Do "The Tonight Show" at 12:05AM,, January 12, 2010
  12. ^ NBC Dumps Conan for $45 Million Payoff; Reinstates Jay as "Tonight Show" Host, TV Guide, January 21, 2010
  13. ^ Conan O'Brien: I Won't Do a 12:05AM "Tonight Show",, January 12, 2010
  14. ^ "LIGHTS, CAMERA, REACTION! KEVIN EUBANKS". BNET. July 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  15. ^ Borowitz, Andy (2003-05-13). "Interview With Andy Borowitz". CNN. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  16. ^ "Farrell Files for Restraining Order". 2006-07-21. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  17. ^ "Late shows return with Huckabee, Clinton". Associated Press via 2008-01-03. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  18. ^ "Huckabee, Obama have huge night in Iowa". 2008-01-04. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Hirschberg, Lynn. "Heeeeere's . . . Conan" The New York Times Magazine, 20 May 2009.
  22. ^ "Leno's last 'Tonight Show' delivers record ratings". The Live Feed. May 30, 2009. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "New York Post". Carson Feeds Letterman Lines. Retrieved December 17, 2006. 
  25. ^ Grossman, Ben (November 2, 2009). "Jay Leno Talks Back: An Exclusive Interview With B&C". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  26. ^ "Leno promises smooth transition to O'Brien". MSNBC. 2004-09-28. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  27. ^ "O'Brien to replace Leno on 'The Tonight Show'". CNN. 2004-09-27. 
  28. ^ Elber, Lynn (2009-05-14). Leno's last `Tonight' guest is Conan O'Brien. Associated Press via The Buffalo News. Retrieved 2009-05-14.
  29. ^ Finke, Nikki (2007-11-09). "Tonight Show Returns With Guest Hosts After Leno's Nonwriting Staff Laid Off". Deadline Hollywood Daily. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  30. ^ "January 2, 2008". The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 2008-01-02.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Niente più Jay Leno su RaiSat Extra…". Antonio Genna. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  33. ^ "Jimmy Kimmel till Kanal 5". Dagens Media. August 6, 2008. 

External links

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