May 15th, 2009 03:09 EST
Guests on Jay's Last Week Hosting "Tonight Show" Released
Former stand-up comic and penultimate funny man of Late Night, Jay Leno, will bidding farewell to "The Tonight Show", which he has hosted for the last 17 years, on May 29th with special guests on hand for the occasion. Leno`s replacement for the role, Conan O`Brien, will be featured on Jay`s last show as well as legendary singer/songwriter James Taylor.
The 59-year-old "Tonight Show" host also swore "something really out of the left field" would be in store for his last show in the 11:30 time slot at the NBC Studios in Burbank, California, before he goes on to to start a new prime-time talk and comedy vehicle by the fall.
"It`s not my job to put it together, but everyone knows who I like," he said during a conference call to reporters.
Regarding the star-studded final week for the comedian`s remarkable tenure on the program, some of Jay`s guests include actor/director Mel Gibson, actor/comedian Billy Crystal, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and pop musician Prince.
Conan O`Brien, who was recently supplanted by former SNL cast member and actor Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night", is set to presume Leno`s job on June 1st. Leno`s show will be aired five nights a week in the 10:00 time slot which has been reserved for scripted dramas in the past as NBC desperately attempts to regain their poise in the ratings.
Leno admitted he hasn`t prepared much for his new show but defended the switch over to a slightly new format that should capitalize on some of the network`s most profitable hours of advertising.
The National Broadcasting Company has been floundering the last several years in the ratings cellar amongst all of the four major television networks, and is looking for a way to get out. With Jay Leno`s show displacing the pricier scripted programs, the network would annually save millions of dollars.
Jay Leno not only spoke of the financial benefits of the move, but also the change in pace for a company that was once a consistent source of quality entertainment.
"There really isn`t any comedy on at 10 p.m. Everything is very serious and adult murder and all these procedural shows. It is fun to have something a little bit different," Leno said. "This is not a decision we went into lightly. All the research came back saying people wanted some comedy and we thought going earlier was a good idea. I am not going to ram it down people`s throats. Let`s see if it is something that will work."
He predicted that he wouldn`t be choked up over ending a run that squared him up against jilted ex-NBC late night show host David Letterman, who jumped into the 11:30 slot on CBS after Leno assumed Johnny Carson`s seat.
"It`s not like you are leaving showbusiness, or leaving the network, or even leaving the (NBC) lot."