The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

infobox television
show_name = The Tonight Show
with Jay Leno

Laura Bush and current host Jay Leno.]
caption = "The Tonight Show" intertitle.
format = Talk show
Variety show
runtime = 01:02:30
starring = Jay Leno Tonight Show Band
Announcer: Edd Hall (1992-2004) John Melendez (2004-2009) Bandleader: Branford Marsalis (1992-1995) Kevin Eubanks (1995-2009)
country = United States
network = NBC
picture_format = 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
location = NBC Studios
Burbank, California
first_aired = May 25, 1992
last_aired = present
num_episodes = 3,604 (as of August 8, 2008)
preceded_by = "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson"
followed_by = "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien"
(scheduled to start ; June 1, 2009)
website =
imdb_id = 0103569
tv_com_id = 10020|

"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" is an Emmy Award-winning 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 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 2007, 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. [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-12|url=|title=Interview With Andy Borowitz |publisher=CNN|date=2003-05-13|author= Borowitz, Andy ]

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.cite web|url=|publisher=MSNBC|title=Leno promises smooth transition to O'Brien|date=2004-09-28|accessdate=2008-05-12] cite web|url=|publisher=CNN|title=O'Brien to replace Leno on 'The Tonight Show'|date=2004-09-27] Leno is reportedly second-guessing his decision to retire in 2009; [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-12|url=|title=Should He Stay or Should He Go?|publisher=AOL|date=2007-10-15] however, NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker has confirmed that O'Brien will take over as planned, and Leno is in talks to remain with the company. [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-12|url=|title=NBC exec says Leno out as planned in '09|publisher=USA Today|date=2007-10-29] Meanwhile, Tribune Company Chairman/CEO Sam Zell and CEO Randy Michaels have stated to the media during a nationwide tour of Tribune properties that they would like to lure Leno into the Tribune fold as the host of a new late-night program after the end of his run as host of "The Tonight Show", by launching it on Tribune stations and using superstation WGN America as a linchpin for the show [ [,0,7130008.column Topic Galleries - ] ] .

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.citeweb|accessdate=2008-05-12|url=|title=Tonight Show Returns With Guest Hosts After Leno's Nonwriting Staff Laid Off|publisher=Deadline Hollywood Daily|date=2007-11-09|author=Finke, Nikki] 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. [cite episode|title=January 2, 2008|series=The Tonight Show with Jay Leno|airdate=2008-01-02]

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.


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, on some occasions, a stand-up comedian will perform in the last segment, a staple of "The Tonight Show".

Immediately following the performance segment, Leno walks on camera to thank the performers and bid farewell to the audience. 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 bandleader Kevin Eubanks [cite web|accessdate=2008-05-12|url=|title=LIGHTS, CAMERA, REACTION! KEVIN EUBANKS|publisher=BNET|date=July 2007] — play the show off the air.

Recurring segments

* "Headlines" (Monday): Humorous print items sent in by viewers. These real-life headlines are usually headlines with typographical errors, or unintentionally inappropriate items.
* "Jaywalking": 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).
**Howard Stern has said the segment was lifted directly from his radio show.cite web|url=|publisher=Slate|title=Howard Stern Shock Jock in Winter|date=2004-03-02]
**"Battle 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.
**The segment's name is a play on the host's name and the illegal practice of jaywalking.
**Some 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.
*"The 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.
*Celebrity 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.
*Comedic 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.
* Ask 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.
* "Videos 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.
* Howie 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.
* Ross 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.
* "Pitch 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. People sometimes pitch a product.
* "Stuff 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.
* Pumpcast 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.
* Pumpernickel Bread Special: A segment where Leno invites celebrity chefs, such as Martha Stewart, to share hilarious recipes.
* Duller Image Catalog: Leno will present outrageous and crude products created by the staff. A play on The Sharper Image Catalog.
* The 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).
* Photo 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.
* "99 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.
* "Celebrity 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.
* Truth 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."
* "Dealing with the Public": Leno plays real police or 911 audio/video recordings that are ridiculous, stupid or funny.
* "Sidewalking": 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.
* "Teenage Wasteland": Teenagers perform a stunt or talent they possess.
* "Does 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?".
* "Midnight 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)
* "Wheel 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.
* "They 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.
*Steve Irwin bringing in Snakes and Crocodiles.
* Tonight Show phone in. Tapes of celebrity voices are played while Jaytalks with them.

Notable episodes

* In 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.
* Following 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.
*On 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, Don Rickles, and Bob Newhart.
*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 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.cite web | publisher=TMZ | title=Farrell Files for Restraining Order | url= | accessdate=2008-05-12|date=2006-07-21]
*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 "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" to return with writers.
*On 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.


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 the Leno show initially directly faced Letterman's show, Letterman initially led in ratings, however the turning episode is generally marked when Hugh Grant appeared on Leno (July 10, 1995). Leno famously asked Grant "What the hell were you thinking?" referring to Grant's arrest for seeing a prostitute.

Tonight Show in other countries

CNBC Europe

"The Tonight Show" can be seen in Europe on CNBC Europe as a 30 minute condensed version, Mondays to Fridays at 12 Midnight CET (11PM GMT). The show's full version, 45 minutes in length, is seen weekends at 9PM CET (8PM GMT).

The weekday edition features the monologue, interviews with guests and the musical guest. Comedy segments are not shown on weekdays. Monday's show, which is transmitted on Thursdays on CNBC Europe usually has a shortened monologue which is then followed by the comedy segment "Headlines" shown in a condensed version. However recently CNBC Europe have dropped this on occasions when there are big star guests or the monologue proves to be funnier.

CNBC Europe used to show the full version of the Tonight Show everyday, but changed to a condensed weekday version on March 26, 2007, to make room for additional business programming. "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" was also shown on weekdays, but was relegated to weekends only when the business programming expanded.

Other channels

"The Tonight Show" was broadcast in Italy (with Italian subtitles) until 2005 when RaiSat Extra cancelled the program.cite web|accessdate=2008-05-12|url=|title=Niente più Jay Leno su RaiSat Extra…|publisher=Antonio Genna]

"The Tonight Show" is also seen in India on Zee Cafe Monday to Friday at 11 PM.

The Philippine cable TV channel Jack TV also airs the show Tuesday to Saturday at 11PM. Reruns air from Wednesday to Sunday.

In the Middle East and North Africa, "The Tonight Show" can be seen Saturday to Monday at 9PM KSA on the Orbit Satellite Television and Radio Network's channel Super Comedy.

In Australia, "The Tonight Show" airs weeknights at 11PM on The Comedy Channel.

In Romania, "The Tonight Show" can be seen on weeknights, starting 12:25AM on news channel Antena 3.

"The Tonight Show" is seen in Sweden on Kanal 5 Monday to Friday, but always a week after the original airing, to allow time for subtitling. - Replaced by Jimmy Kimmel Show, Now airing on Kanal 9

In Canada, "The Tonight Show" is seen at 11:35 PM ET/PT on the "A" channel in Ontario, British Columbia and the Maritimes; and 12:00 AM MT/CT on Citytv in Manitoba and Alberta.

In Iceland, "The Tonight Show" is seen at 11PM on Skjáreinn Monday to Thursday.

"The Tonight Show" is broadcast a day after its original airing Monday through Friday, with Friday's show airing the following Monday, on AFN Prime to military service members and their families at 10:30pm in their respective time zones.


"The Tonight Show" also presents a daily digest version of the show's monologue, called "Last Night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno", broadcast on radio stations nationwide. Originally distributed by Premiere Radio Networks, the radio program moved to Westwood One in 2007.


External links

* [ "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" - NBC Official site]
* [ "The Tonight Show" on Hulu]

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