It was the second time he has had to bow out from the primo job as host of the “Tonight Show,” but Jay Leno’s good-bye was still emotional. and quite touching. Leno handled the hosting duties on the talk show for the last time, last night, and scored huge ratings.
That is no surprise really. Leno beat his competition in the ratings before his first, ah, departure in May of 2009 and continued to lead the pack of late night talkers after he returned to the show in March of 2010. Ratings are supposed to be the determining factor on whether a show fails or succeeds in television — but not always, definitely not in the case of Jay Leno.
The pointed chin comic got the boot from NBC twice for the same reason. They threw him over for a younger guy. Back in 2009 it was Conan O’Brien, who eventually failed on the “Tonight Show,” but is doing fine now with his own show on TBS “Conan.” Now it’s the very talented Jimmy Fallon who grabbed a lot of attention recently as the host of NBC’s “Late Night.” I have watched Fallon do his thing. He’s good. Is he the next Johnny Carson? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see about that.
Leno was a hard-working, dedicated high achiever for NBC — still he lost his job. That’s a stomach churner for many Americans getting the same treatment in the workplace. It sucks — whether you’re making millions or barely getting by. So Leno stepped out of the “Tonight Show” spotlight again Thursday night with the help of a packed audience and celebrity friends like Garth Brooks, Billy Crystal, Carol Burnett, Oprah, and Jack Black. Leno said good-bye with grace, humility and a few tears. ( see video clip on home page)