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Jay Leno Works Overtime

It is only two weeks before Jay Leno signs off "The Tonight Show" so today he held what was supposed to be a 45-minute conference call with the nation's television critics.

The call went more than an hour, securing Leno's reputation as an accommodating, media-friendly TV host.

There wasn't much news to come out of the session, except for the announcement that his replacement, Conan O'Brien, will be the final guest on May 29, James Taylor will be the musical guest that night and there is "something really unusual and different" planned on the final show.

"It is something really out of left field that we're going to end on," said Leno. "It's something really personal and really unusual... It has to do with our show and our staff. I think it will make people smile."

He said he asked Taylor last year to be on the final show because he  "was the last thing" that Leno heard when he left Boston in the early 1970s to go to Hollywood. 

I didn't get to ask a question until an hour into the call. My initial question was whether he feels he gets enough respect from Emmy voters and critics considering his strong ratings.

He gave a two-minute answer that essentially boiled down to you can't get everything and "be happy with what you have."

Then I asked the host if he heard the inappropriate, casual remark about the Special Olympics that President Obama made during a "Tonight Show" appearance weeks ago while talking about his bowling improvement. It happened so fast I thought Leno might not have heard it.

"I heard it," said Leno. "Ut, oh, my immediate thing is 'oh, we can edit that out.' Then I went, 'no it's the president, you can't edit anything out. Everything you say is being transcribed around the world.' I said that's going to cause him some problems... He just kind of threw a line out. It wasn't meant that way. You have to look at people's hearts and see what they mean. I knew he didn't mean it that way." 

There will be much more about Leno and his reflections after 17 years on "The Tonight Show" coming up in The Buffalo News before his final show.

You can help me out by answering the following questions: Will you miss him in late night? Will you watch his new 10 p.m. weekday program on NBC next fall? And what are your favorite Leno memories?

-- Alan Pergament


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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

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