Sunday, May 31, 2009
Mark this one down in the history books, because it's never happened before, and it likely will never happen again. I'm about to priase Jay Leno.
Leno's final "Tonight" show was Friday night, and I was up to see it. You know, it really wasn't bad. The farewell wasn't overly self serving. It wasn't overly sappy, and it wasn't overly overly done. Think about it for a while. It'll eventually make sense.
Leno thanked all the people who stood by him in good times and bad. Believe me, you don't know who your friends are until you're in trouble. He also noted all the children born to staffers during his 17 years behind the "Tonight" show desk.
You have to give the guy credit. He worked his butt off. Leno was number one for most of his stint. He didn't take much vacation time. As noted earlier, people seem to like Leno and you can't manufacture that.
No one beats Carson, but even Carson fans will admit Johnny mailed it in for his last few years. There were too many guest hosts and too many "best of" shows.
Even Letterman has nights where it appears he'd rather be somewhere else.
You can't forget what NBC executives did to Leno. Five years ago, O'Brien's contract was up, and the network feared O'Brien jumping to the competition. NBC decided to give O'Brien the "Tonight" show, thinking Leno's popularity would be on the decline by 2009. The network guessed wrong. Even though I'm sure it was difficult, Leno remained a company man.
Jay Leno wasn't my choice for late night entertainment, but I do respect what he accomplished.
AT 2:50 AM