Jay Leno

Jay Leno

Born: April 28, 1950
Age: 73
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James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno (/ˈlɛnoʊ/; born April 28, 1950) is an American comedian and television host. He was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno from 1992 to 2009. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ET, also on NBC.

After The Jay Leno Show was canceled in January 2010 amid a host controversy, Leno returned to host The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 1, 2010. He hosted his last episode of The Tonight Show on February 6, 2014. That year, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.


Early life

Leno was born in New Rochelle, New York. His homemaker mother, Catherine (née Muir; 1911-1993), was born in Greenock, Scotland, and came to the United States at age 11. His father, Angelo (1910-1994), was an insurance salesman who was born in New York, to immigrants from Flumeri, Italy. Leno grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, and graduated from Andover High School. Leno obtained a bachelor's degree in speech therapy from Emerson College, where he started a comedy club in 1973. His older brother, Patrick (May 12, 1940 - October 6, 2002), was a Vietnam War veteran who worked as an attorney.


Early career

Leno made his first appearance on The Tonight Show on March 2, 1977, performing a comedy routine. During the 1970s, Leno appeared in minor roles in several television series and films, first in the 1976 episode "J.J. in Trouble" of Good Times and the same year in the pilot of Holmes & Yo-Yo. After an uncredited appearance in the 1977 film Fun with Dick and Jane, he played more prominent roles in 1978 in American Hot Wax and Silver Bears. Other films and television series from that period include Almost Heaven (1978), "Going Nowhere" (1979) from One Day at a Time, Americathon (1979), Polyester (1981), "The Wild One" (1981) from Alice, and both "Feminine Mistake" (1979) and "Do the Carmine" (1983) from Laverne & Shirley. Leno's only starring film role was the 1989 direct-to-video Collision Course, opposite Pat Morita. He also appeared numerous times on Late Night with David Letterman.

The Tonight Show

Starting in 1987, Leno was a regular substitute host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. In 1992, he replaced Carson as host amid controversy with David Letterman, who had been hosting Late Night with David Letterman since 1982 (aired after The Tonight Show), and whom many—including Carson himself—had expected to be Carson's successor. The story of this turbulent transition was later turned into a book and a movie. Leno continued to perform as a stand-up comedian throughout his tenure on The Tonight Show.

In 2004, Leno signed a contract extension with NBC which would keep him as host of The Tonight Show until 2009. Later in 2004, Conan O'Brien signed a contract with NBC under which O'Brien would become the host of The Tonight Show in 2009, replacing Leno at that time.

During the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike, Leno was accused of violating WGA guidelines by writing his own monologue for The Tonight Show. While NBC and Leno claim there were private meetings with the WGA where there was a secret agreement allowing this, the WGA denied such a meeting. Leno answered questions in front of the Writers Guild of America, West trial committee in February 2009 and June 2009, and when the WGAW published its list of strike-breakers on August 11, 2009, Leno was not on the list.

In 1998, Leno competed in a tag-team match at the WCW's Road Wild pay-per-view. Since 2001, he has voiced The Crimson Chin, a recurring superhero in the Nickelodeon animated series The Fairly OddParents.

Leno said in 2008 that he was saving all of his income from The Tonight Show and living solely off his income from stand-up comedy.

On April 23, 2009, Leno checked himself into a hospital with an undisclosed illness. He was released the following day and returned to work on Monday, April 27. The two subsequently cancelled Tonight Show episodes for April 23 and 24 were Leno's first in 17 years as host. Initially, the illness that caused the absence was not disclosed, but later Leno told People magazine that the ailment was exhaustion.

Michael Jackson trial

During the 2005 trial of Michael Jackson over allegations of child molestation, Leno was one of few celebrities who appeared as a defense witness. In his testimony regarding a call by the accuser, Leno testified that he never called the police, that no money was asked for, and there was no coaching - but that the calls seemed unusual and scripted.

As a result, Leno was initially not allowed to continue telling jokes about Jackson or the case, which had been a fixture of The Tonight Show's opening monologue in particular. But he and his show's writers used a legal loophole by having Leno briefly step aside while stand-in comedians took the stage and told jokes about the trial. Stand-ins included Roseanne Barr, Drew Carey, Brad Garrett, and Dennis Miller, among others.

Succession by Conan O'Brien and The Jay Leno Show

Main article: The Jay Leno Show

Because Leno's show continued to lead all late-night programming in the Nielsen ratings, the pending expiration of Leno's contract led to speculation about whether he would become a late-night host for another network after his commitment to NBC expired. Leno left The Tonight Show on Friday May 29, 2009, and Conan O'Brien took over on June 1, 2009.

On December 8, 2008, it was reported that Leno would remain on NBC and move to a new hour-long show at 10 p.m. Eastern Time (9 p.m. Central Time) five nights a week. This show followed a similar format to The Tonight Show, was filmed in the same studio facility and retained many of Leno's most popular segments. Late Night host Conan O'Brien was his successor on The Tonight Show.

Jay Leno's new show, titled The Jay Leno Show, debuted on September 14, 2009. It was announced at the Television Critics Association summer press tour that it would feature one or two celebrities, the occasional musical guest, and keep the popular "Headlines" segments, which would air near the end of the show. First guests included Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah Winfrey (via satellite), and a short sit-down with Kanye West discussing his controversy at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, which had occurred the night before.

Timeslot conflict and return to The Tonight Show

Wikinews has related news: US TV host Conan O'Brien rejects NBC's offer to switch his show's time slot
Main article: 2010 Tonight Show conflict

In their new roles, neither O'Brien nor Leno succeeded in delivering the viewing audiences the network anticipated. On January 7, 2010, multiple media outlets reported that beginning March 1, 2010, Jay Leno would move from his 10 p.m. weeknight time slot to 11:35 p.m., due to a combination of pressure from local affiliates whose newscasts were suffering, and both Leno's and O'Brien's poor ratings. Leno's show would be shortened from an hour to 30 minutes. All NBC late night programming would be preempted by the 2010 Winter Olympics between February 15 and 26. This would move The Tonight Show to 12:05 a.m., a post-midnight timeslot for the first time in its history. O'Brien's contract stipulated that NBC could move the show back to 12:05 a.m. without penalty (a clause put in primarily to accommodate sports preemptions).

On January 10, NBC confirmed that they would move Jay Leno out of primetime as of February 12 and intended to move him to late night as soon as possible. TMZ reported that O'Brien was given no advance notice of this change, and that NBC offered him two choices: an hour-long 12:05am time slot, or the option to leave the network. On January 12, O'Brien issued a press release that stated he would not continue with Tonight if it moved to a 12:05am time slot, saying, "I believe that delaying The Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't The Tonight Show."

On January 21, it was announced that NBC had struck a deal with O'Brien. It was decided that O'Brien would leave The Tonight Show. The deal was made that O'Brien would receive a $33 million payout and that his staff of almost 200 would receive $12 million in the departure. O'Brien's final episode aired on Friday, January 22, 2010. Leno returned as host of The Tonight Show following the 2010 Winter Olympics on March 1, 2010.

On July 1, 2010, Variety reported that total viewership for Jay Leno's Tonight Show had dropped from 5 million to 4 million for the second quarter of 2010, compared to the same period in 2009. Although this represented the lowest second-quarter ratings for the show since 1992, Tonight was still the most-watched late night program, ahead of ABC's Nightline (3.7 million) and David Letterman's Late Show (3.3 million).

Announcement of successor

On April 3, 2013, NBC announced that Leno would leave The Tonight Show in spring 2014, with Jimmy Fallon as his designated successor. Leno sang the "Tonight"'s parody of Tonight Show with Fallon.

Leno's final show as the host of the Tonight Show was on February 6, 2014 with his final guest Billy Crystal and musical guest Garth Brooks, along with a few surprise guests, including Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, Jim Parsons, Sheryl Crow, Chris Paul, Carol Burnett, and Oprah Winfrey.

After The Tonight Show

Leno has maintained an active schedule as a touring stand-up comedian appearing in, on average, 200 live performances a year in venues across the United States and Canada as well as charity events and USO tours. He has also made appearances on his successor's Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and on Late Night with Seth Meyers, as well as being a guest on the finale of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and doing a cameo drilling and torturing James Corden in a boot camp for talk show hosts on the premiere of The Late Late Show with James Corden. Leno has also hosted an hour long Jay Leno's Garage special on CNBC and it has been announced that the show will become a weekly primetime series on the cable channel in 2015. He declined an invitation to appear on Late Show with David Letterman despite speculation he would make an appearance on the show's finale.

Public image

Criticism of Leno

Leno has faced heated criticism and some negative publicity for his perceived role in the 2010 Tonight Show conflict. Critics have pointed to a 2004 Tonight Show clip, in which Leno said he would allow O'Brien to take over without incident. At the time, Leno stated he did not want O'Brien to leave for a competing network, adding, "I'll be 59 when, that's five years from now. There's really only one person who could have done this into his 60s, and that was Johnny Carson; I think it's fair to say I'm no Johnny Carson." Leno also described The Tonight Show as a dynasty, saying, "You hold it and hand it off to the next person. And I don't want to see all the fighting." At the end of the segment, he said, "Conan, it's yours! See you in five years, buddy!"

Rosie O'Donnell was among O'Brien's most vocal and vehement supporters, calling Leno a "bully" and his actions "classless and kind of career-defining". Bill Zehme, the co-author of Leno's autobiography Leading with My Chin, told the Los Angeles Times, "The thing Leno should do is walk, period. He's got everything to lose in terms of public popularity by going back. People will look at him differently. He'll be viewed as the bad guy."

In addition to criticism about his handling of the timeslot conflict, Leno has also been criticized for the perceived change in the content of his monologues from his previous stand-up material. Actor and comedian Patton Oswalt was among the celebrities who openly voiced disappointment with Leno, saying, "Comedians who don't like Jay Leno now, and I'm one of them, we're not like, 'Jay Leno sucks'; it's that we're so hurt and disappointed that one of the best comedians of our generation... willfully has shut the switch off."

Support for Leno

NBC Sports chairman and former Saturday Night Live producer Dick Ebersol spoke out against all who had mocked Leno, calling them "chicken-hearted and gutless".

Jeff Gaspin, then chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment, also defended Leno, saying, "This has definitely crossed the line. Jay Leno is the consummate professional and one of the hardest-working people in television. It's a shame that he's being pulled into this."

Fellow comedians Paul Reiser, Jerry Seinfeld and Jim Norton (a frequent contributor to The Tonight Show) also voiced support for Leno.

Responding to the mounting criticism, Leno said that NBC had assured him that O'Brien was willing to accept the proposed arrangement and that they would not let either host out of his contract. Leno also said that the situation was "all business", and that all of the decisions were made by NBC. He appeared on the January 28, 2010, episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show in an attempt to repair some of the damage done to his public image.

Personal life

Leno has been married to Mavis Leno since 1980; they have no children, by mutual agreement. In 1993, during his first season as host of The Tonight Show, Leno's mother died at the age of 82 and in the following year, his father died at the age of 84. Leno's older brother Patrick Leno, a Vietnam Veteran and graduate of Yale Law School, died in 2002 at the age of 62 as a result of complications from cancer.

He is known for his prominent jaw, which has been described as mandibular prognathism. In the book Leading with My Chin he stated that he is aware of surgery that could reset his mandible, but does not wish to endure a prolonged healing period with his jaws wired shut.

Leno is dyslexic. He claims to only need four to five hours of sleep each night. Leno does not drink or smoke, nor does he gamble. He spends most of his free time visiting car collections or working in his private garage.

Leno said that he does not spend a penny of his money that he earns from The Tonight Show. Instead, he lives off his money from his stand-up routines.

Leno reportedly earned $32 million in 2005.


In 2001, along with his wife, he donated $100,000 to the Feminist Majority Foundation's campaign to stop gender apartheid in Afghanistan, to educate the public regarding the plight of women in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. Mavis Leno is on the board of the Feminist Majority.

In 2009, he donated $100,000 to a scholarship fund at Salem State College (now Salem State University) in honor of Lennie Sogoloff, who gave Leno his start at his jazz club, Lennie's-on-the-Turnpike.

In August 2012, Leno auctioned his Fiat 500, which was sold for $385,000 with all the proceeds going to a charity that helps wounded war veterans recover by providing them temporary housing.

Love Ride

Since 1985 Jay Leno has been the Grand Marshal for the Love Ride, a motorcycle charity event which since its founding in 1984 has raised nearly $14 million for charities benefiting muscular dystrophy research, Autism Speaks, and in 2001, the September 11 attacks recovery.

Vehicle collection

Leno owns approximately 286 vehicles (169 automobiles and 117 motorcycles). He also has a website called Jay Leno's Garage, which contains video clips and photos of his automobiles in detail, as well as other vehicles of interest to him. Leno's Garage Manager is Bernard Juchli. Among his collection are two Doble steam cars, a sedan and a roadster that were owned by Howard Hughes, and one of nine remaining 1963 Chrysler Turbine Cars.

He has a regular column in Popular Mechanics which showcases his car collection and gives advice about various automotive topics, including restoration and unique models, such as his jet-powered motorcycle and solar-powered hybrid. Leno also writes occasional "Motormouth" articles for The Sunday Times, reviewing high-end sports cars and giving his humorous take on automotive matters.

Leno opened his garage to Team Bondi, the company that developed the critically acclaimed video-game L.A. Noire, which is set in Los Angeles in the late 1940s. Leno's collection contained almost 100 cars from this period, and allowed the team to recreate their images as accurately as possible.


Referring to Israel, Leno said, "It is the only democracy in the Middle East. I look around the Middle East and I see people being stoned to death because they are gay and women being not allowed to drive or not allowed to vote. And here is this one little paradise in the Middle East where freedom reigns and there is a democracy, you vote people in you vote people out."



Year Film Role Notes
1977 Fun with Dick and Jane Carpenter Uncredited
1978 Almost Heaven Danny TV movie
1978 Silver Bears Albert Fiore
1978 American Hot Wax Mookie
1979 Americathon Larry Miller
1981 Polyester Journalist on TV News Uncredited
1983 What's Up, Hideous Sun Demon Ishmael Pivnik (voice)
1989 Collision Course Detective Tony Costas Filmed in 1989, released in 1992
1993 Dave Himself
1993 We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story Vorb (voice)
1993 Wayne's World 2 Himself
1994 The Flintstones Bedrock's Most Wanted Host
1994 Major League II Himself
1996 The Birdcage Himself Uncredited
1997 Meet Wally Sparks Himself
1997 Contact Himself
1997 In & Out Himself
1997 Mad City Himself
1997 Wag the Dog Himself
1997 Just Write Himself Uncredited
1999 EDtv Himself
2000 Space Cowboys Himself
2002 John Q Himself
2002 Juwanna Mann Himself
2003 Stuck on You Himself
2003 Calendar Girls Himself
2004 Mr. 3000 Himself
2004 First Daughter Himself
2005 Robots Fire Hydrant (voice)
2006 Tales of the Rat Fink Himself (voice)
2006 Cars Jay Limo (voice)
2006 Ice Age: The Meltdown Fast Tony (voice)
2006 The Astronaut Farmer Himself
2007 Christmas Is Here Again The Narrator (voice)
2007 Underdog Himself
2008 Scooby-Doo! and the Goblin King Jack O'Lantern (voice)
2008 The Great Buck Howard Himself
2008 Igor King Malbert (voice)
2008 Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare Murray Hare (voice)
2010 I'm Still Here Himself
2013 Delivery Man Himself
2014 Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas Fake Santa #1 (voice) TV movie
2015 Ted 2 Himself


Year Series Role Notes
1976 Good Times The Young Man Episode: "J.J. in Trouble"
1976 Holmes & Yo-Yo Gas Station Attendant Episode: "Pilot"
1979 One Day at a Time Bernard Shapiro Episode: "Going Nowhere"
1979-1983 Laverne & Shirley Bobby Bitts, Joey Mitchell 2 episodes
1981 Alice Bones Episode: "The Wild One"
1986 Jay Leno and the American Dream Himself Stand-up special
1986 Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "Jay Leno/The Neville Brothers"
1988 Sesame Street Himself Episode: "20.15"
1990 42nd Primetime Emmy Awards Himself (co-host) TV special
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Himself (host) 4,610 episodes; also writer, executive producer
1993 The Larry Sanders Show Himself Episode: "Performance Artist"
1993 Frasier Don (voice) Episode: "Oops"
1994 The Sinbad Show Himself 2 episodes
1994-1995 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Himself 2 episodes
1995-1999 Home Improvement Himself 2 episodes
1995 Mad About You Himself Episode: "Just My Dog"
1995 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Jay Frog (voice) Episode: "The Frog Prince"
1995 JAG Himself 2 episodes
1995 Friends Himself Episode: "The One with Mrs. Bing"
1996 Seinfeld Himself Episode: "The Shower Head"
1996 Homicide: Life on the Street Himself Episode: "Sniper: Part 1"
1996 Wings Himself Episode: "The Team Player"
1996 Ellen Himself Episode: "Go Girlz"
1996 The Nanny Himself Episode: "The Taxman Cometh"
1996 3rd Rock from the Sun Himself Episode: "Dick Jokes"
1997 Caroline in the City Himself Episode: "Caroline and the Bad Trip"
1997 Muppets Tonight Himself Episode: "The Cameo Show"
1997 Baywatch Himself Episode: "Talk Show"
1997 Veronica's Closet Himself Episode: "Pilot"
1997-2002 Just Shoot Me! Himself 2 episodes
1998 The Simpsons Himself (voice) Episode: "The Last Temptation of Krust"
1998 South Park Mr. Kitty (voice) Episode: "Cartman's Mom Is a Dirty Slut"
1998-1999 V.I.P. Himself 2 episodes
1999 Providence Lucky the Dog (voice) Episode: "Blind Faith"
2000 Dilbert Himself (voice) Episode: "The Delivery"
2000 The Drew Carey Show Lewis' Boss Episode: "Drew Live II"
2000 DAG Himself Episode: Pilot"
2000 The West Wing Himself Episode: "20 Hours in L.A."
2001 Titus Himself Episode: "The Pit"
2001-2011 The Fairly OddParents Crimson Chin, Nega-Chin (voice) 11 episodes
2002 The Osbournes Himself Episode: "The Osbournes"
2003 Scrubs Himself Episode: "My Own Private Practice Guy"
2003 The Bernie Mac Show Himself Episode: "Pink Gold"
2005 Joey Himself Episode: "Joey and the Tonight Show"
2006 The Jimmy Timmy Power Hour 3: The Jerkinators! Nega-Chin (voice) TV special
2006-2009 Family Guy Himself (voice) 2 episodes
2006-present Jay Leno's Garage Himself (host) Also creator, writer, executive producer
2009-2010 The Jay Leno Show Himself (host) 95 episodes; also creator, writer, executive producer
2009 Entourage Himself Episode: "Drive"
2010 White House Correspondents' Dinner Himself (host) TV special
2010 Hannah Montana Himself Episode: "I'll Always Remember You"
2012 Louie Himself 2 episodes
2013 Real Husbands of Hollywood Himself Episode: "Auf Wiedersehen, Mitches"
2014 Episodes Himself Episode: "Episode Four"
2014 Phineas and Ferb Colonel Contraction (voice) Episode: "Phineas and Ferb Save Summer"
2014-present The 7D Crystal Ball (voice) Recurring role
2015 The Muppets Himself Episode: "Hostile Makeover"
2015-2016 Last Man Standing Joe Leonard Episodes: "The Road Less Driven", "Mike and the Mechanics", "The Shortcut"

Awards and nominations

Year Award Nominated work Result
1989 Writers Guild of America Award for Variety - Musical, Award, Tribute, Special Event Family Comedy Hour Nominated
1990 American Comedy Award for Funniest Male Performer in a TV Special - Network, Cable or Syndication The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Nominated
1993 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
1994 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
1995 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Won
1996 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
1998 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
1998 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
1999 TV Guide Award for Favorite Late Night Show The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Won
1999 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2000 TV Guide Award for Favorite Late Night Show The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Won
2000 Hollywood Walk of Fame Won
2000 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2001 TV Guide Award for Variety Star of the Year The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2002 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2003 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2005 People's Choice Award for Favorite Late Night Talk Show Host The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2005 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2006 People's Choice Award for Favorite Late Night Talk Show Host The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Won
2007 People's Choice Award for Favorite Talk Show Host The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2008 People's Choice Award for Favorite Talk Show Host The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2008 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction Program Jay Leno's Garage Nominated
2009 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction Program Jay Leno's Garage Nominated
2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction Program Jay Leno's Garage Won
2011 Hasty Pudding Man of the Year Won
2012 People's Choice Award for Favorite Late Night TV Host The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Nominated
2012 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction Program Jay Leno's Garage Nominated
2013 TCA Career Achievement Award Nominated
2013 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction Program Jay Leno's Garage Nominated
2014 TCA Career Achievement Award Nominated
2014 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor Won

Jay Leno supports the following charitable causes: Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, Homeless, Children, AIDS.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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