A new ‘Leno’ taking shape

Plonka placed as director of new show

Details are emerging on NBC’s upcoming “The Jay Leno Show,” including a new director for the host as he moves into primetime.

Former “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” helmer Liz Plonka has been tapped to serve as director on the Leno strip, which launches Sept. 14.

Also, NBC confirmed that Leno’s “Tonight Show” band leader, Kevin Eubanks, will indeed be continuing on “Jay Leno” as the show’s music director. But John Melendez, who had served as Leno’s “Tonight Show” announcer since 2004, will no longer serve in that capacity. Instead, Melendez will join the “Jay Leno Show” writing staff.

Plonka replaces Ellen Brown, who directed Leno on “Tonight” for his entire 17-year run. Plonka was brought in to help give the show a new and different feel from “Tonight.”

“She is an accomplished director and is a perfect fit for the new show,” said exec producer Debbie Vickers.

Plonka’s no stranger to Leno, having filled in on occasion as the “Tonight Show” director. Her other recent credits include “Mind of Mencia,” “Talkshow With Spike Feresten” and “The Showbiz Show With David Spade.”

As for other credits on “Leno,” Larry Goitia will serve as supervising producer, while Leno, Jack Coen and Stephanie Ross are producers. Coen will also supervise the monologue writing.

Melendez joins a staff of 19 writers.

Also Wednesday, NBC took the wraps off the website for “The Jay Leno Show,” which will include a weekly video starring Leno as well as blogs and clips from Leno’s “Tonight Show” tenure.

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