Jay Leno is hoping to end “The Tonight Show” on a good note for a second time, and as he prepares to walk into the sunset, he is going to be doing so with a roster that includes a good many familiar faces … and also his very first guest from more than two decades ago.
NBC announced at their winter TCA event today that Billy Crystal, who was the first guest of Leno’s show back in 1992, would help to see him off for good on Thursday, February 6. Garth Brooks would be the musical guest for that show. This marks a chance for Leno to be reflective, but we also wonder somewhat if he is confused by the move to dismiss him to begin with. We’re going to cover this subject repeatedly in the coming months (and we’ll even podcast about it the first week of February), but Leno is leaving with “The Tonight Show” still the most-watched of all the late-night talk shows. He also has held his own despite competition from “The Colbert Report,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” at an earlier time, Conan O’Brien over on TBS, and plenty of other new competitors.
As for some other highlights, his replacement Jimmy Fallon will appear on the February 3 episode of the show alongside frequent guest Betty White; meanwhile, Charles Barkley, Matthew McConaughey, and Lyle Lovett will appear on the following show, with Sandra Bullock and now-frequent guest Blake Shelton showing up on February 5.
Fallon will announce a little later today the first guest for his new version of the show, which is going to start airing some new episodes the week of February 24. This is also the day that “Late Night with Seth Meyers” is going to start airing.
As for Jay’s future, there are many question marks. NBC wants to keep him to host various specials and other programs, but other networks are going to be courting him hard, including some such as CNN (whose Jeff Zucker knows Leno well), Fox (who is often rumored to be a late-night destination), and maybe even a premium cable network looking to get more into the space.
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