Jay Leno Says Goodbye to ‘The Tonight Show’: What’s Next?

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Jay Leno

Jay Leno has had a bumpy past decade with NBC. Now, he’s leaving for good, to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show. First, he left the show for a better time slot, allowing Conan O’Brien to take over — but when his new show did poorly, he ousted Conan, to the displeasure of fans, and returned to his old show while Conan moved over to TBS. Now, Leno is being given $15 million to leave The Tonight Show ahead of when his original contract would have run out  in September — according to the New York Daily News. 

He notes that he is leaving willingly this time around because he was more politely conferred with on his removal now than in the past. “Congratulations, Jimmy. I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage,” said Leno, a car lover, Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News.

Leno said that in terms of how he wants to leave the show, this is the right time for it. “We’ve been No. 1, and we’re leaving No. 1, and I feel good about that,” he said, according to Trib Live. “People say, ‘You could have gotten another couple of years,’ but I don’t know, then it becomes diminishing returns. This feels right this time,” he said, noting that he likes who will be replacing him as well, and that he and Jimmy Fallon used to send each other pizzas.

“There’s a genuine generation gap — I could be his dad. But Johnny was 36 when he took over, and Jimmy’s still in his 30s. That’s a huge shift, and that’s the shift that should be going on. Go all the way back, then bring it all the way forward,” said Leno. He may be leaving, but he’s certainly not looking to retire, at least not based on his densely packed stand-up tour plans, according to Trib Live.

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