By Alan Pergament
The Jay Leno era of NBC's "The Tonight Show" has its finale at 11:35 tonight when the host spends most of the time with his good friend Billy Crystal.
The ratings for the final week locally have gotten a decent boost and it wouldn't be surprising if tonight's program hit a double-digit rating, a rarity for late-night shows these days.
The semi-final episode Wednesday had a 7.8 rating on Channel 2, the local NBC affiliate, which is about 60 percent higher than the show averaged in January.
Interesting, ratings for "Late Show with David Letterman" also have been much higher than usual this week. Wednesday's program had a 6.1 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate.
Unquestionably, the late-night ratings for two nights this week have been helped by stronger than usual viewership of the weather-fueled 11 p.m. news as the lead-in.
Leno's Wednesday program will be tough to top emotionally, as frequent guest Sandra Bullock started crying while thanking Leno for all his kindness during her career and tough times in her life.
"I felt special even when I felt insecure,"said Bullock of her appearances on the show. "And everyone in this room and in this country, I think, felt that every day you've been in their homes. I'm so grateful I got to be part of it."
So far, Bullock's little speech was the special moment of the final week.
The Monday episode featuring Leno's replacement Jimmy Fallon had a 6.0 local rating and Tuesday's episode featuring Matthew McConaughey a 6.2. Those are about 20 percent higher than the January average here. To put those numbers in perspective, that's in the ballpark of what many Buffalo Sabres games have received in this dreadful season.
This isn't the first time that Crystal has helped Leno say goodbye. Crystal also was a guest in the final week of Leno's program in 2009 before the very brief Conan O'Brien era of "Tonight."
You can read more about how the Leno era went over locally in Friday's Buffalo News.
Good news for fans of the Golden Globes. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the ceremony featuring partying celebrities for a third straight year when NBC telecasts it on Jan. 11, 2015. Fey and Poehler have gotten rave reviews for their last two years as hosts. And as Fey said in this year's opening, their return makes sense since Hollywood repeats successful things until viewers get tired of them.
Now that CBS has earned the rights to simulcast eight of the 16 games in The NFL Network package of Thursday night and Saturday games the big question is what does this mean to "The Big Bang Theory," one of the most popular series on television locally and nationally. "Bang" now airs at 8 p.m. Thursday but has previously aired on Monday nights. Since CBS is having some trouble attracting viewers to its Monday night comedy block, it would make perfect sense to move it back to that night next season.
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