Jay Leno Makes Way for Jimmy Fallon

Colleen Mortell, Staff Writer

Jay Leno said his final farewell to The Tonight Show on Thursday,  February 6.

For the past 22 years, Leno has been host of the night talk show on NBC.  He took a nine month break between 2009-2010 when the station hired Conan O’Brien to host.  They were hoping to attract a new audience. Unfortunately O’Brien did not accomplish their goal, so Leno was rehired to take his old job back.

“I don’t like goodbyes. NBC does, but I don’t,” Leno said in his final opening monologue. “This is my last show – for real. I don’t need to be fired three times. I get the hint!”

Although Leno is funny and sincere, the network wants to draw a younger audience.  The guests alone on Leno’s farewell episode, Bill Crystal and Garth Brooks, did not attract much of the younger generation.  Leno’s show was aimed for an older audience.

Crystal was interviewed on Leno’s first night as host of The Tonight Show in 1992.  According to Rolling Stone, Leno told him he would have him back for his very last show: “Promise made, promise kept.”

The current host of Late Night, Jimmy Fallon, will be taking over The Tonight Show on February 17.

“I’m excited to see Jimmy Fallon host because he’s really funny!” senior Kristin Tomcheck said.

Senior Stu Kwaterski stated, “I’m going to miss that chin…”

However, social studies teacher Mrs. Julie Campbell said she wouldn’t miss Leno so much because she prefers to watch the Late Show with David Letterman instead of Leno.

During his final week as host, Leno’s ratings ended on a high note (14.6 million according to CBS news).  This means Fallon has large shoes to fill.

A skit entitled “What’s Next for Jay?” was aired containing several celebrities giving Leno advice about what to do with his new free time.  Steve Carell told Leno to enjoy his freedom and never look back, as he was sitting at his desk from the hit series, The Office.  Charlie Sheen told him to buy NBC and fire everybody!  However, Fallon ended the skit graciously thanking Leno for the opportunity.

Leno is excited to see what Fallon will bring to the show.  He says its time to hand off the rings to a new leader.

“The first year of the show, I lost my mom. The second year, I lost my dad. Then my brother, and after that I was pretty much out of family. So, the folks here became my family,”  Leno said.

That is why he did not leave NBC when he would receive better offers from ABC or FOX.  “I didn’t know anybody there. These are the only people I’ve ever known,” he added.

As the show came to an end, Leno said goodbye with his eyes filled with tears, “Boy, this is the hard part. I want to thank you, the audience. We wouldn’t be on the air without you. This has been the greatest 22 years of my life. I am the luckiest guy in the world.”

Leno then signed off quoting Johnny Carson saying, “I bid you all a heartfelt goodnight.”