Skip to comments.Jay Leno: Mr. Nice Guy
Posted on 01/28/2014 8:07:20 AM PST by Kaslin
Anyone in the news business will tell you that a side benefit is the diverse number of people one gets to meet.
Jay Leno, who leaves "The Tonight Show" on Feb 6 after a 22-year run (retire is not the right word in his case), is one such person.
The circumstances surrounding our first meeting involved a column I wrote 15 years ago in support of his wife's activism on behalf of Afghan women. Jay and Mavis Leno invited my wife and me for a visit. Things progressed from there.
Last October when we attended the show, I asked him why he wouldn't want to move to another network after leaving NBC. He told me that after being number one for some time, a new show would always be measured by the success of "The Tonight Show" and he didn't want that. "Besides," he said, "I am going to be very busy." He said he has scores of appearances scheduled, starting the day after his departure from "Tonight."
On a previous visit I asked him why he never had a substitute host. He said, "Are you kidding? That's how I got the job." He often subbed for Johnny Carson. Unlike the four-times married Carson, Jay is married to the same woman he started with and he has never been associated with any scandal. He is the anti-Justin Bieber.
If you saw the "60 Minutes" interview Sunday night, you witnessed what seemed like genuine humility from a man at the top of his game. That is rare in entertainment and in politics.
I once asked him why the show wasn't labeled "starring," instead of "with Jay Leno." He said, "You always want to underplay yourself," implying as Scripture does that "pride goes before destruction."
Once he invited us to a movie screening on the Fox lot, not far from the NBC studios in Burbank. The movie was "The Insider," about a "60 Minutes" expose of the cigarette industry and the behind-the-scenes battle involving lawyers and journalists to get the expose on the air. It was an amazing moment for me, sitting next to one of the most famous entertainers in America.
I have been privileged to know two of "The Tonight Show's" four hosts. Steve Allen, who invented the format, was the other. Allen was a multitalented man. In addition to his comedic skills, he wrote more than 3,000 songs (the theme from the film "Picnic" and "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" are among the best known). He also acted and wrote novels. Leno is a great standup comic. His other passion is cars, of which he owns quite a few.
Leno has had some detractors, including a few fellow entertainers (I call them "B-listers") who criticized what they regarded as his bad behavior during NBC's disastrous decision to replace him with Conan O'Brien and then move Leno to 10 p.m. Leno was vindicated when NBC was forced to return him to "Tonight" after O'Brien's ratings tanked.
The website splitside.com offers "9 Reasons Why Jay Leno's Retirement Will Be the End of Late Night Drama," by which it means rivalries among hosts. Writes splitside, "It's likely ... that this will be the last headline-grabbing talk show power struggle for a while because the late-night landscape has changed so much the past few years. And it probably won't be a bloody battle like the last one given how super polite and new to the job Jimmy Fallon is."
Reason number nine is: "Once Jay Leno retires, there will be no more Jay Lenos." That's for sure.
One more mark of Leno's graciousness is something Johnny Carson refused to do when he departed. Jay plans to have his replacement, Jimmy Fallon, on the show his final week. It will be a "pass the baton" moment. In the "60 Minutes" interview, Jay praised the talented Fallon as "a young Johnny Carson." High praise, indeed.
Jay Leno will leave "Tonight" number one in total audience ratings and number one with the coveted younger demographic. He is living proof that sometimes -- not often, but on occasion -- nice guys can finish first.
Fallon sucks, he may have an audience but it’s not the Tonight Show audience.
The only decent late night talk show host is Craig Ferguson.
You’re right about that. My husband knows Fallon and says he’s a nice guy, though. I’ve heard negatives about Leno - mostly from the crowd who went with Letterman years ago during their first breakup, lol. This was so long ago, Letterman was completely apolitical and deemed backstage to be a nice guy.
The Tonight Show to go ‘ghetto’ under Fallon. ‘Jay Leno: Mr. Nice Guy’???? Except when Senator Ted Cruz is on his show. Leno treated Cruz like crap but I guess Leno had his orders from the NBC brass on behalf of King Barry.
He also owns several Harleys
I never could get into leno i kinda like the guy and love his car collection but i was a Carson fan and i stop watching after he retired
Same here. Remember when people used to go to bed with Johnny Carson? My husband and I were one of those.
Agree. Wife and I will probably start going to bed earlier. I certainly will miss “Headlines” and the phony endorsement clips - two of the best parts of the Tonight Show. If Leno went to another network and included these in his format, we’d follow. Generally cut show off after 25 minutes unless the guest was someone we liked or respected as we often got tired of actors plugging their new movies-most of which we regard as trash.
Right.Ferguson is funny. Fallon is a guy who tries to act funny. Young Carson? Who are they kidding “Soupy Sales” is more like it
Yeah, he’s a mean old man. I’ll bet he throws kids off his lawn.
Only watched one or two partial episodes of Leno’s version of the Tonight Show and quit watching. Couldn’t stand Leno. Wasn’t because I was old either, I was in my twenties when Carson retired.
Letterman has turned into Bizarro!
We went to a couple of Letterman takings. Once,we were asked to stay so Letterman could do some spots. His lackeys were around and he let loose a string of invective that stunned the audience. We left in complete silence.
He probably has an entire posse deputized to throw bad kids (and elk-poaching grown-ups) off his lawn! lol...
p.s. I haven't been able to watch the bitter old loon for years either but up in Choteau, the tiny little town close to his ranch, people are quite devoted to him...he donated money to refinish the floor in the high school gym, rebuild the rodeo stands, all kinds of stuff like that.
Deep within a mean old bully there seems to remain a tiny bit of heart.
I met the Lenos at a Tonight Show New Years Day cast party at his house. He was a real gentleman.
I had planned to record the show on my DVR but missed it. Fortunately I found the video posted online
Yeah, Bruce Springsteen throws his money around the poor sections where I live. But I’ve had it on good authority that Letterman has gotten very weird and unpleasant over the years. I always think of him living in CT, btw - plus his private bedroom in the Ed Sullivan Theater. Didn’t realize he owned a part of the west!
I guess Cal enjoys rubbing elbows with celebrities.
Mr. Nice GUy?
aRnie jumped into the 2003 Recall on his show.
Too bad Cal wasn’t there then.
I’ll tell you, Choteau is as good as it gets. The Eastern Front of the Rockies is right there behind you, and the view from the mountains is so long and open you swear you can actually see the curve of the earth.
p.s. David and his wife were married in the Choteau County courthouse...and maybe you remember several years ago when there supposedly was a plot to kidnap his young son? The plot seemed to me to be more of a drunken barroom fantasy of a lowlife cowboy who worked on the Letterman place..but they packed him off to the state pen pronto....
Fortunately, I watched the last Jay Leno segment with GW & Laura Bush. There is a genuine respect and affection shared between Leno and GWB. Leno has worked with GWB at Texas ranch functions to assist veterans.
I thought I had set my DVR to record it, but I was lucky to find the video
Don’t you think you want to re-phrase that last sentence?
Mr. Nice Guy, unless you’re Senator Ted Cruz.
I record Hannity and watch him the next morning because I can not keep my eyes open. I get up early in the morning and sometimes have to get up several times during the night. I watch Megyn Kelly but sometimes record the rest of her program
I watched about 5 minutes of David Letterman’s first show. That’s all I could stand. I haven’t watched him since
It was a figure of speech. *rme*
I record and watch the Leno show every day. He is great and lately has become rather conservative in the tone of his jokes.
just my humble opinion
some folks love their celebs.. yaknow
Years ago, when Letterman was just beginning to be recognizable, he had the same appointment time as my buddies and me for raquetball court time.
We considered him spooky, because in the post-hour showers, he was an incessant "looker"....his eyes never went above our navels.
Ooh! Hadn’t heard that rumor!
All comedians are weird although perhaps not as weird as your description of DL.
my fifty cents worth
I’m 67 and watched Steve Allen during the summer when I was a kid. Even enjoyed Jack Paar, with what I now condsider phony intellectualism. I watched when he walked off the show and when he came back. Introduced me to Jonathan Winters.
The show was an hour and 15 minutes, IIRC with the local news just 15 minutes. Then Carson made it an hour and moved it to LA. It took me awhile but I grew to learn that carson became THE man.
I liked Letterman at the time and hoped he’d get the show, as did Carson. Letterman used to do a lot of Steve Allen like schtick. Going outside, jumping on a board and getting stuck vertical. Throwing stuff off the roof. Then he tuned into a slime bucket with his intern crap and his liberal slant came out. I watched the last appearance by O’Reilly and Christmas Eve with Darlene Love and the show is getting tired. He needs to ride off into the sunset.
Can’t watch Leno every night, but I like him better as a person. Does stand up 100 nights a year and puts the money away. Was hoping he’d go to Fox, but I guess he has decided not to.
We are all getting older and Fallon and Meyers are the future. Fallon has a young audience and it will become the tonight show audience. Fallon does music impressions and parodies which hit with a wide audience. He’s generally a nice guy and may build his own audience if NBC chillaxes.
NBC never gave O’Brien a chance to build an audience. That started the brouhaha, Letterman painted Leno as the villain and it may not have been that way.
Tried to watch Arsenio recently and I couldn’t do it after 3 shows. Same old cliches, and playing to guests no matter what they believe.
I’ll try Fallon and Meyers for awhile. Can’t take O’Brien for too long. But my sensibilities are with Johnny, Dave, and Jay and I’m riding off into the sunset.
Our take was that he was probably just “taking note” for comparison purposes.....
Then the ratings will tank and NBC will replace him. Sooner or later they will find a host the audience likes. The Tonight Show is here to stay.
I never forgave Fallon for how he and his band treated Michelle Bachman on his show.
Posted this related info about his final guests the other day;
20 years ago, I'd have agreed with you. We used to watch Johnny Carson almost every night. After Johnny retired, we'd flip back and forth in between Leno and Letterman, never really satisfied with either one. After a few years, we started doing that less and less. These days, almost never. Netflix and the DVR has changed our viewing habits permanently. I don't think any live/original program can compete with recorded stuff we have at our fingertips. I'd be curious to see numbers.
Face the Nation Transcripts January 26, 2014: Cruz, Schumer, McCaul(CBS News) -- Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on January 26, 2014, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, Peggy Noonan, Bill Kristol, Bill Daley, Bob Woodward, Brian Boitano and Billie Jean King.
Shieffer starts out out with the report on the Maryland Mall shooting and then goes to the threat against the Sochi Olympics with Rep Michael McCaul.
Next he goes to Senator Cruz and here is the part of the Transcript
And as you can see Schieffer was quite disrespectful of Senator Cruz
Shitferbrains is a Moderator on a News Program. He is a DNC hack in Sheep’s clothing, but we expect that.
Leno is the Host of a Late Night Entertainment Program. Leno came out of the box gunning for Cruz. He was rude. Look at his Interviews with any Leftist, night and day.
I thought I was watching Letterman after his Chin Implant Surgery. You and obviously disagree on Jay’s demeanor.
Leno disappointed me with his “interview” of Cruz, but when the rubber meets the road, Jay is a Liberal.
His Wife is a pro Abort activist masquerading as a supporter of those poor Afghan Women. She is as Left as Larry David’s Ex Wife. It must rub off.
BTW - I like Jay Leno, that is why I was disappointed in his behavior, but I guess my expectations were unrealistic. You can’t change a Leopard’s Spots.
And I always thought it was “in my humble opinion”, or “just my humble opinion”.
He ain’t retiring, they are essentially firing him.
I haven’t watched his show regularly for years but he’s a damn sight funnier than Fallon.
I meant THE tonight show. Oh this will stay on and become the pale crap that snl has become.
They are idiots, they are biting the hand that feeds them. His show has been so successful for them
I forgot the lilshit did that. The guy is Obama’s colostomy bag.