May 29, 2009 — After 17 years, Jay Leno says farewell to ‘Tonight Show. The only guests: Conan O’Brien, who chatted about his new Tonight Show, and James Taylor, who sang Sweet Baby James
In an interview about leaving The Tonight Show, Leno, 59, said,
“Will I miss it? Yes, terribly. It’s the most wonderful job ever in show business.”
And he thanked Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Monica Lewinsky and Michael Jackson for giving him so much material. He also introduced his successor, Conan O’Brien, his final couch guest, saying, “I couldn’t be prouder of him,” and calling him “a terrific guy and a good friend.”
From the New York Times:
Jay Leno ended his final “Tonight Show” on Friday not with a surprise guest or a selection of his vintage comedy bits, but with what he called “the greatest thing we’ve ever done.” What followed was an onstage parade of the children — 68 in all — who had been born to people who had met because they worked on the program.
…After 17 years as the host of “The Tonight Show,” Mr. Leno’s final show on Friday night, his 3,775th, was much like many of the others, filled with monologue jokes and some of his signature comedy pieces. He presented highlights of many of those pieces during his last week, but saved perhaps the most popular, “Jaywalking,” for the finale. The segment consists of Mr. Leno asking basic questions of people in the street, who come up with mind-boggling answers.
From the Los Angeles Times:
With a touch of emotion in his voice and a bit of dampness in his eyes, Jay Leno on Friday said his final farewell to “The Tonight Show,” NBC’s top-rated late-night franchise that he hosted for 17 years.
Leno, who will return to the network this fall in a nightly 10 p.m. comedy series, combined his characteristic casual lightness with thanks to viewers, staffers, supporters and his wife, Mavis, who was in the audience.
…Relating how he had been asked numerous times in the last several weeks about leaving, Leno said: “I’m thrilled. When I took this from Johnny, the show was the No. 1 show on late-night television. . . . It’s No. 1, which means I get back my security deposit.” He also implored viewers to show his successor, Conan O’Brien, who takes over Monday, “as much support as you’ve shown me the last 17 years.”
As had been announced, O’Brien was a guest on Friday’s show, along with James Taylor, who sang “Sweet Baby James,” a request by Leno.
In the final moments, Leno introduced the 68 children that had been born to “The Tonight Show” crew and staffers in the last 17 years. He called those children “the true legacy” of the show.
From the Associated Press:
Jay Leno wrapped up 17 years as “Tonight” host Friday with jabs at favorite targets, including politicians and his own network, and with an unusual touch of sentiment.
“Now comes the hard part,” Leno said as the NBC show drew to a close.
After reminiscing briefly about his time as host, Leno said he had an answer to those who asked him about his “Tonight” legacy.
He invited the audience to “take a look” at the children born to show staffers during his tenure—all 68 of them, babies to teenagers, who filled the studio stage.
“That’s what I’d like my legacy to be,” Leno said, his voice thickened by emotion. “When these kids grow up and they go, `Hey, mom and dad, where did you guys meet?’, they’re going to say they met on the stage of `The Tonight Show.'”
It was a self-effacing, homespun ending that suited Leno, who’s often said he wants to appeal to the American mainstream and doesn’t fret about his appeal to critics or other arbiters of what’s cool.
But he noted proudly that he took over the top-rated late-night show from Johnny Carson and was passing it on with the same No. 1 ranking to Conan O’Brien, who begins as host Monday.
“Which means I get my security deposit back,” quipped Leno.
Jay Leno ended by asking viewers to “please give Conan as much support as you’ve given me throughout the years.”
Jay Leno is not saying goodbye for good. However, he will to start a new gig on NBC this fall.
Anyway, do you know how tall is Conan o Brien?