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Stay Tuned
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Friday, May 25, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Jay!

Tonight, Jay Leno will celebrate his 15th anniversary as host of “The Tonight Show.”

The sad thing is that this will be the last major anniversary Jay celebrates because he is handing over the reins to Conan O’Brien in 2009.

You may remember NBC made that decision to keep Conan from going to another network.

I’ve read that privately Jay is not happy about the change (and why would he be?) because he’s not ready to quit, but publicly he’s played the good company man and shown nothing but support to Conan. This week, he told “USA Today” that he will not try to extend his departure. “Conan’s going to take it. Conan is terrific. I like Conan and he’s earned it. I don’t own ‘The Tonight Show.’”

Let me say for the record that I’m a fan of Conan, but I still find it a slap in Jay’s face since his “Tonight Show” makes more money for NBC than any of their other shows and Conan’s “Tonight Show” is an unknown commodity…

Plus, I’m a huge Jay fan. What you see with Jay, is what you get and I’ve always loved that…

And there’s no bigger evidence of that than the real reason he agreed to step aside: He doesn’t want Conan to go through “the ridiculous nonsense,” as Jay calls it, that he went through after Johnny Carson’s retirement.

If you have never seen “The Late Shift,” the HBO movie based on Bill Carter’s book about the chaos after Carson’s retirement, I highly recommend you get your hands on it. It will truly make you happy for Jay and his success. And having read the book, I can tell you that the movie only cracks the surface of what happened…

As for what Jay will do after he leaves “Tonight,” he told “USA Today”: “I’ll get a job somewhere”…

That’s exactly what NBC is afraid of…