NBC's Bob Greenblatt on Jay Leno's Future, Reveals Final Guests
The lineup for the final week of the Leno-hosted "Tonight Show" was also unveiled, with Billy Crystal -- Leno's first guest in 1992 -- returning.
The Tonight Show With Jay Leno has set the guest lineup for its final week of shows.
Leno, who has led the NBC late-night talk show since 1992, will welcome Billy Crystal -- his first Tonight Show guest -- to the couch for his final show Thursday, Feb. 6. His musical guest for the episode will be Garth Brooks. Crystal was Leno's first guest on May 25, 1992.
NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt also announced Sunday morning during his executive session at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour that Leno's successor Jimmy Fallon will make an appearance on the Tonight Show on Monday, Feb. 3 for a "passing of the baton." (Betty White will also be a guest on that episode, making her 19th appearance.)
Though it is unclear what Leno's next gig will be post-Tonight Show, Greenblatt was optimistic about keeping Leno in the family. "I'm hoping we will enter into a new relationship with him and keep his home on NBC," Greenblatt told reporters.
Later, Greenblatt gave some more specifics. "I would love him to do specials with us," he said, "and other shows he could host. We're being very respectable of him and not pushing that agenda too hard." According to Greenblatt, Leno didn't want to have these conversations until after his final week hosting the Tonight Show.
CNN's Jeff Zucker dismissed reports Jan. 10 that he was having conversations about hiring Leno. "We have some other things that I'd like to concentrate on first," Zucker said. "That's not in the cards anytime soon. I have a longtime relationship with Jay -- I think he's a terrific talent -- but that's not where our priorities are."
To be sure, sources tell THR that Leno is highly unlikely to stay at NBC following his early February departure. Leno is already being courted by several other networks, but the veteran host has opted not to have any conversations about his next steps until his NBC show has concluded.
The full lineup below:
Monday, Feb. 3: Jimmy Fallon, Betty White
Tuesday, Feb. 4: Matthew McConaughey, Charles Barkley, Lyle Lovett
Wednesday, Feb. 5: Sandra Bullock, Blake Shelton
Thursday, Feb. 6: Billy Crystal, Garth Brooks
** Vintage Trouble will also appear during the week.
Leno has ranked No. 1 among the broadcast networks in the 11:35 p.m. time slot since 1995. Leno's Tonight Show has won the last 71 quarters against Letterman's Late Show in viewership, dating back to 1995, and has won 69 of 70 quarters in adults 18-49. In the fourth quarter last year, the Tonight Show posted its biggest 18-49 demo and total audience in three years.
Fallon, who is expected to announce his first guests Sunday afternoon at winter TCA, takes over the Tonight Show on Feb. 17.