Jay Leno’s Last ‘Tonight Show’ to Air Feb. 6

Jay Leno's Last 'Tonight Show' to

NBC to pull latenight host on the eve of Olympics coverage

Jay Leno’s last “Tonight Show” on NBC will air Feb. 6, sources confirm to Variety.

“Tonight Show” exec producer Debbie Vickers made the announcement today to employees of the show, who will be paid through end of September, 2014, when Leno’s contract with NBC expires.

Jimmy Fallon is set to take over the latenight show sometime following NBC’s Olympics coverage, which runs Feb. 7-23.

The decision to move Leno has been a peculiar one, given the host’s recent dominance in ratings.

In Nielsen numbers for the second quarter of this year, NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” was easily the top-rated hour in latenight, toppling fellow competitors David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Leno’s 3.575 million in total viewers (up 2% from last year) was well out in front of Letterman (2.7 million) and Kimmel (2.5 million).

But Fallon’s ratings have also been rising, with the “Late Night” host up 16% from last year in adults 18-34 last quarter, averaging 1.78 million viewers.

Friday’s announcement, first reported by Deadline, wasn’t the first time Leno received a “Tonight Show” end date from NBC. The latenight host was famously ousted in May of 2009 in order to make room for Conan O’Brien, who only briefly sat behind the “Tonight Show” desk (six months) before Leno took over the show again in 2010.

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  1. Mer'ia Jeaufreaux says:

    Mr. Jay Leno IS THE ONLY COMEDIAN THAT HAS EVER MADE ME LAUGH OUTSIDE OF MR. CARROL O’CONAL, (sorry for d incorrect spelling)! IF JAY LEAVES THE TONITE SHOW; I WILL DEFINATLY NEVER WATCH ANY PROGRAM AGAIN! I AM FINISH WITH NBC! JAY IS AND ALLWAYS BE MY FAVORITE!

  2. Page says:

    I guess that’s the last time I will stay up that late!

  3. John hibert says:

    NBC is getting as bad as ABC with their programming by taking off good shows ,I hope it fails and Jay tells them to kiss off ass holes

  4. I was there on TONIGHT in the 1980s and 90s as a part of the show when Jay came in as a guest host in 1987 as Joan Rivers departed for Fox. Jay was managed then by the late Jerry Kushnick, a wonderful and talented man married to a lady named Helen, who as many may recall later became TONIGHT’s executive producer for a short stint when Jay came in as host. In 1987…Jay & Gary Shandling alternately shared guest host duties on TONIGHT on Monday nights, Mr C’s night off. Jay became the “Monday” night permanent guest host of TONIGHT before coming in as host in 1992 when Mr. C exited. To me, both Jay and Conan O’Brien both brought something special and uniquely distinct as hosts of NBC’s late nite staple. Like many others I felt the handling of the TONIGHT SHOW with Leno vs. O’Brien was done – – well, as about as poorly as it could have been by the network. Jay’s dominance over the years in late nite makes a mute statement about his ability to connect with late nite viewers vs.other shows at that hour. I personally will miss Jay at that appointed hour, much as I did Mr C when he left. I think though that Jimmy Fallon has a real future as host of TONIGHT. As Jack Paar would say …”I KID YOU NOT.”

    • G. Jardoness says:

      Mr. Barrett’s comments also reminded me of the dramatization of those events, called, “Late Night”.

      Although many share Mr. Barrett’s acknowledgments, I have yet to hear or read anything remotely akin to the love which Mr. Carson enjoyed. Regardless of the competition, and in spite any sharp-edges a person of his accomplishments undoubtedly possessed, he eclipsed his predecessors, and his departure was heartfelt and filled with dread. An era had seemingly come to an end…

      Mr. Leno’s tenure, by the time he leaves, will be almost exactly the number of episodes as Johnny’s. But what will we take away from them? What will he leave behind?

      Hopefully, the next few months will allow Jay Leno to prove me wrong… I sincerely hope he does.

    • Lula Camp says:

      Whom will we watch for late night? Fallon and the rest are too immature–silly stuff. Leno is the ONLY ONE for us over 50 . I hope he will go to some network. Otherwise, I will be going to sleep after the 11:00 news. Friday, August 11’s show was hilarious with the chef. Great stuff!!!

      • Denver says:

        Craig Ferguson (TLLS) is the best late night host on TV, in my opinion and experience.

      • cadavra says:

        This over-50 watches Letterman and will continue to do so. (Nothing against Jay; I just prefer Dave.) The two Jimmys will cannibalize a small audience, and the Leno fans will switch to Dave, making him #1 again. A sentient five-year-old could figure this out.

  5. CNU says:

    I don’t watch the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, but once Fallon takes over I still won’t be watching.

  6. Greg P says:

    What about one more shot at Primetime? I’d give him a 2 hour slot on the weekend where they’re not getting much traction anyway. Perhaps Saturday night or Sunday 7-9 when football isn’t on. He should be able to pull a 1.5.

  7. Mike Woods says:

    NBC just keeps going downhill since Comcast took over and they don’t take care of their people. I vowed to never watch the Today Show again over the way they treated Ann Curry and I haven’t! Now it looks like I will be swearing off the Tonight Show that I have watched for as long as I can remember. NBC used to be my favorite network with great shows now they are just a sad shell of what they used to be its time for GE to take back over at least they new how to run a network and treat the people who work for them.

  8. Anne McNeff says:

    his numbers are so high, viewership and sponsorship, what a mistake NBC is making….

  9. Dick Delson says:

    Dumb move. He’s still the best around.

  10. rgold02 says:

    I wish Jay all the best in Life. I saw him in person on one of his shows about twenty years ago. Guess who his guest was, an unknown at the time? Ellen Degeneres! He actually came out and talked with the audience for a while before the show started. I was so impressed with Jay. Nice guy.

  11. chris ginder says:

    So sad. I really like Jay Leno.

  12. We can only hope that Rupert Murdoch and FOX sign Jay to a multi-year contract; and his late-night humor—which is the best on TV—continues nonstop on FOX network stations!

    Murdoch and FOX would be fools not to do this.

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