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The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is an American late-night talk show currently hosted by Jay Leno, on NBC. It 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) originates from NBC's studios, in Burbank, California.

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 with a 4:3 center-cut for standard definition television sets.

Leno's incarnation of The Tonight Show has 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, as of 2009, Leno has rarely utlilized guest hosts, preferring to host the series by himself. There has only been one occasion in which a substitute host has appeared, on May 12, 2003, when Leno traded places with Katie Couric and hosted the The Today Show as part of a publicity stunt.[2]

NBC announced in 2004 that Leno would leave The Tonight Show at the end of May 2009, handing the reins to Conan O'Brien. 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, tentatively titled The Jay Leno Show, will debut in fall 2009, following a similar format to the Leno incarnation of Tonight.[3][4][5]

The Tonight Show
with Jay Leno
Laura Bush and current host Jay Leno.
The Tonight Show intertitle.
Format Talk show
Variety show
Starring Jay Leno
John Melendez
Kevin Eubanks
Edd Hall
Branford Marsalis


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 humorous 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, however, a stand-up comedian will occasionally 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 with Jimmy Fallon, 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[6] — play the show off the air.

Recurring segments

bullet"Headlines" (Monday): Humorous print items sent in by viewers. These real-life headlines are usually headlines with typographical errors, or unintentionally inappropriate items.
bulletJaywalking: A pre-taped segment where Leno asks people questions about current news and other topics in public areas around Los Angeles (usually Hollywood Boulevard, Melrose Avenue or Universal Studios). Most responses are outrageously incorrect (one person believed that Abraham Lincoln was the first president, another could not identify a picture of Hillary Clinton. etc).
bulletHoward Stern has said the segment was lifted directly from his radio show.[7]
bulletBattle of the Jaywalk All-Stars: Some of the stupidest "Jaywalkers" are brought back onto the show to be asked simple questions to see which one is less dumb.
bulletThe segment's name is a play on the host's name and the illegal practice of jaywalking.
bulletSome of the interviewees prove so popular with viewers that they become regulars on The Tonight Show itself. Such examples are Jaywalk All-Stars Kip and Kim, who have a recurring segment on the show entitled What would Kip and Kim Do?, where people in situations ask them for advice. Their responses are often ridiculous and done to make the audience laugh. Another frequent Jaywalking guest, Angela Ramos, quickly became popular (due to her nasally high-pitched laugh) and joined the show for a time as a correspondent.
bulletThe Audience Wants to Know: Selected audience members are chosen to ask Leno questions, and in response, Leno shows a video clip relating to the subject.
bulletCelebrity Interviews: Leno will conduct an interview with a celebrity or recent major news name. The person in question is an obvious parody designed to utilize humorous responses. This often occurs "via satellite," but the character's portions are done on the musical performance part of the stage. Fred Willard and Gilbert Gottfried are the most common actors used for the segment, as well as Steve Bridges impersonating George W. Bush.
bulletComedic Products: Depending on the season, Leno will bring out comedic spins on gifts, media releases and "inventions that didn't work out." (for example: A Day After Tomorrow home game for the summer months). It also came out in a different iteration, as being supposedly sold through the NBCCC (Nothing But Cheap Crap Channel), with Leno playing the channel's resident host, Bob Johnson.
bulletAsk the Fruitcake Lady: Marie Rudisill, an outspoken older woman and aunt of Truman Capote, responded to questions about relationships, sex and family. She was originally on the show to promote her cookbook about fruitcake. This segment was discontinued after Rudisill's death.
bulletVideos We Found on YouTube: A prototypical Leno segment where he shows amusing videos supposedly found on YouTube. However, the videos are not viewed on YouTube but video files instead. "Zoo Tube" features similar videos of animals.
bulletHowie Mandel: Using a hidden camera, Howie would play practical jokes on average citizens. This bit became much less common after the beginning of Howie's program Deal or No Deal.
bulletRoss the Intern: Ross Mathews, a highly effeminate intern for the show, is sent to participate in special events. As part of a running gag, Leno started introducing Ross as his illegitimate son.
bulletPitch To America: Whenever a screenwriters convention is held in the U.S., a Tonight Show camera crew sets up an area where screenwriters can walk up and make a pitch for a movie script or television show that he/she has been working on. More recently, the crew goes to a trade show, where inventors pitch their product, and the audience is asked if it "sold" or "not sold" (similar to the Stuff We Found on eBay segment).
bulletStuff We Found on eBay: Leno brings up some of the oddest stuff that he has supposedly found while searching on eBay, and the studio audience must determine whether the object was sold or not.
bulletPumpcast News: A fake news anchor, played by Timothy Stack, displayed on a TV screen at a gas station harasses and bothers the customers pumping gas.
bulletPumpernickel Bread Special: A segment where Leno invites celebrity chefs, such as Martha Stewart, to share hilarious recipes.
bulletDuller Image Catalog: Leno will present outrageous and crude products created by the staff. A play on The Sharper Image Catalog.
bulletThe Fine Print: At his desk Leno presents regular everyday products but when zoomed in to reveal the fine print there is a message telling what the product's real intentions are (example: a bag of chips that warns if you eat the product you will get fat).
bulletPhoto Booth: A real free photo booth is set up at Universal Studios Hollywood and people inside are bothered and made fun of before getting their picture taken. The booth's voice is provided by comedian Kira Soltanovich.
bullet99 Cent Shopping Spree: Leno shows off items collected from a local 99 cent store. These products are real and are shown if they have any assembly mistakes (hair combs in a bag labeled sun glasses), poorly translated words on directions or packaging, or if they are just tacky items.
bulletCelebrity Jeopardy: A jeopardy game that includes people in costumes portraying famous people in the news. George W. Bush, and Martha Stewart, are commonly portrayed. Gilbert Gottfried, who is always included on the panel, portrays other uncommon characters such as the Easter Bunny or Pontius Pilate, and is characterized by his frequent use of the phrase, "Son of a bitch!" at some point during the segment.
bulletTruth in Labeling: Leno displays products whose names have been changed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are now renamed for their most common uses. For example a United States one hundred-dollar bill called "gas money."
bulletDealing with the Public: Leno plays real police or 911 audio/video recordings that are ridiculous, stupid or funny.
bulletSidewalking: A camera and microphone are set up in a public location (e.g., on the street, on a college campus), individuals step up to the microphone and perform whatever they desire.
bulletTeenage Wasteland: Teenagers perform a stunt or talent they possess.
bulletDoes this impress Ed Asner?: Individuals perform stunts or show off a talent in front of Ed Asner. Asner comments on whether or not the act impresses him. Similar to the former Late Show with David Letterman stunt, "Is This Anything?".
bulletMidnight Confessions: Members of the audience tell a story about something in their life about which they are embarrassed. Often, at the end of the confession, a product appropriate for the situation is presented to the person (often by Gilbert Gottfried)
bulletWheel of Consolation: In the final weeks of American Idol the person voted off comes on The Tonight Show and is given a chance to spin the wheel of consolation, which contains three elaborate sounding prizes. The wheel is rigged to stop on a certain item, when the contestant receives a play off of the item won. For example, if the wheel stops on 'Breakfast with Royalty,' the Burger King mascot presents the contestant with a breakfast sandwich.
bulletThey Walk Among Us: Leno presents images of celebrities and their supposed look-alikes, who were discreetly taped in Burbank. He says they were products of cloning experiments gone wrong.
bulletSteve Irwin bringing in Snakes and Crocodiles. Discontinued after Steve Irwin's death.
bulletTonight Show phone in. Tapes of celebrity voices are played while Jay talks with them.
bulletBeyondo - Jay would work with Kevin Eubanks on trying to summon people from the great beyond. Discontinued.
bulletIron Jay - pumping iron questions with a muscle headed Jay Leno. Jay's body was made to look bigger. Discontinued.
bulletMr. Brain - Jay acting as a brainiac, taking questions from the audience. His head was made to look bigger with mirrors and the camera. Discontinued.
bulletVirtual Jay - Computer-generated animation of Leno. According to the skit, when Leno heated up a burrito with the foil still on it in the microwave while at his computer, it caused an electrical shock to come from the microwave to Leno to his computer, thus causing Leno to "travel" through the Internet. It usually involved gags to emphasize some of his recurring jokes at the time (e.g. "Virtual Jay" in a page with the picture of a desert and then realizing that he was in Dan Quayle's webpage during his failed 1996 run for President). Discontinued.

[edit] Notable episodes

bulletIn September 2000, with California in an energy crisis that forced power outages, Jay Leno did an episode in the dark using only candles and flashlights known as "The Tonight Show Unplugged" in response to California's power crisis.
bulletFollowing the attacks of September 11, 2001, The Tonight Show was off the air for about a week, as were most similar programs. The first post-9/11 episode began with a still image of an American flag and a subdued opening without the usual opening credits. Leno's monologue paid tribute to those who lost their lives and to firefighters, police and rescue workers across the US. Leno had questioned whether a show that regularly poked fun at the government could continue after the attacks, but in his monologue he explained that he saw the show as a respite from the grim news of the world, akin to a cookie or glass of lemonade handed to a firefighter. Senator John McCain and the musical group Crosby, Stills, and Nash were featured guests. For an extended period after the attack, a short clip of a large American flag waving was shown in between the announcement of the musical guest and Leno's introduction during the opening montage.
bulletOn August 6, 2003, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on The Tonight Show and confirmed he would be running against California Governor Gray Davis for the California recall election. Schwarzenegger won the election on October 7.
bulletOn January 24, 2005, Jay had a special episode that paid tribute to Tonight Show predecessor Johnny Carson, who had just passed away the day before. There were no opening credits, and the monologue simply gave condolence to Carson. There were no segments used, however, Leno played clips from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson before commercials. All the guests were people who had worked with Carson or had been on his show, including Ed McMahon, Drew Carey, Don Rickles, and Bob Newhart.
bulletOn 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 off 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.[8]
bulletOn 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 Late Show with David Letterman and Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to return with writers. Leno's guest that night, Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, was criticized for crossing the WGA picket line to appear on the show.[9] Huckabee would go on to win the Iowa caucuses the very next day.[10]
bulletOn June 13, 2008, Leno delivered the news of Tim Russert's death to his audience during his monologue, and set aside some time in it to remember his old colleague. Leno then stated that he would continue the show as normal afterwards.


End of Leno on Tonight

On September 27, 2004, the 50th anniversary of The Tonight Show's debut, NBC announced that Jay Leno will 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.[13][14]

It was announced on July 21, 2008 that Jay Leno will host his final episode of The Tonight Show on Friday, May 29, 2009 while Conan O'Brien will take over hosting duties commencing the following Monday, on June 1, 2009. On December 9th, 2008, it was announced that Jay Leno will be hosting a new nightly show by Fall 2009, which will air at 10pm EST, during the network's prime time period.[3]

[edit] 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.[15] 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 for himself without any replacement writers.[16]















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