Late-Night Showdown: Conan, Kimmel Target Jay Leno's Final 'Tonight Show'
Leno may be ending his "Tonight Show" era on Thursday, but his competitors are making sure he doesn't get all the attention.
It's the final week of for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show and his late-night competitors are making sure he doesn't dominate headlines by counter-programming against his final episode.
While Leno's final Tonight Show on Thursday, Feb. 6 will feature Billy Crystal, his first guest back in 1992 when he debuted on NBC's longtime late-night talker, and country artist Garth Brooks, other late-night hosts such as Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel are taking advantage of the hype with larger-than-usual bookings that evening.
Over on Leno's direct competition Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel has set an anticipated reunion with his "nemesis" Matt Damon more than one year after the actor successfully hijacked his ABC talker. He is also welcoming George Clooney back to the program more than a decade since Clooney first appeared.
Meanwhile, David Letterman's Late Show -- as part of CBS' week-long Beatles celebration -- has booked The Flaming Lips with John Lennon's son Sean Lennon as the evening's musical guests.
And former Leno successor Conan O'Brien is hoping that bringing together the stars of TV's biggest scripted show, AMC's The Walking Dead, ahead of its winter return, will be a big draw for TBS' Conan. It also marks the first time the cast will be interviewed together on a late-night talk show. (O'Brien briefly succeeded Leno at the Tonight Show helm from 2009-10, before leaving NBC following the late-night debacle that brought Leno back.)
As for the 12:35 a.m. talkers, the competition isn't as overt. The penultimate Late Night With Jimmy Fallon has booked Colin Farrell, Chris Pratt and hip-hop artist 2 Chainz, with fellow Saturday Night Live alum Andy Samberg and the Muppets closing out Fallon's Late Night era on Friday. Meanwhile, Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson on Thursday will have John Goodman and Imogen Poots on the couch.
Here is the head-to-head competition for Thursday.
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC, 11:35 p.m.)
Guest: Billy Crystal
Musical guest: Garth Brooks
Conan (TBS, 11 p.m.)
Guests: The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Lauren Cohan, Steven Yeun, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride
Musical guest: White Denim
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (ABC, 11:35 p.m.)
Guests: The Monuments Men stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban
Late Show With David Letterman (CBS, 11:35 p.m.)
Guest: Michael Keaton
Musical guests: The Flaming Lips with Sean Lennon