Jay Leno reclaims 'The Tonight Show,' Letterman acknowledges the return

Jay Leno took back The Tonight Show from Conan O’Brien on Monday night, saying, “It’s good to be home.” Ha-ha-ha, oh, oh, I get it: Conan was a bully who kicked poor Jay out of his own house and stayed on as a squatter until the police (i.e., NBC) gave Jay back his property! Justice prevails!

“I’m a little nervous,” said Leno. “I know Dave and Oprah are watching.”

Meanwhile, over on The Late Show: “My name is David Letterman, same time, same host,” said Dave. “It’s a tough night for my mom; she doesnt know who to watch, Jimmy Kimmel or Jay.”

Leno preceded his monologue with a taped bit in which he was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (Betty White put in a cameo appearance). The idea was that Jay was waking up from a dream after being gone to a place that was “not so nice.”

He also built a segment around finding a new desk. (He’s doing The Tonight Show from the studio where he once did the revolutionary 10 p.m. phenomenon, The Jay Leno Show, not from the gazillion-dollar studio NBC constructed for that interloper Conan.)

First guest Jamie Foxx sprayed the audience with champagne and led the crowd in a cheer: “When I say ‘welcome,’ you say, ‘back’ — Jay Leno!” “Get up! Do the wave!” he yelled. The audience obliged him.

The best moments of the hour belonged to Lindsey Vonn. Leno conducted a solid interview with the Olympic athlete, who came out carrying a couple of her medals. Vonn was completely charming.

Over on Letterman, Bill Murray was pretty great, coming out on crutches and elevating his leg into a sling, moaning about having had an operation for a torn meniscus. (Hey, had one of those myself.) Dave asked Murray about the possibility of a Ghostbusters 3. “This is my nightmare,” said Murray. “I told them if they killed me off in the first reel, I’d do it.”

Did you watch Leno? Letterman?

Follow @kentucker


Comments (203 total) Add your comment
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  • James

    Leno Sucks

    • Stephanie Tanner

      Agree, Conan’s twitter account is funnier than Leno’s routine. Thankfully, I am a proud member of Craig Ferguson’s Robot Skeleton Army.

      • Nshi

        Oh you’re just jealous of Jay.

      • The Original Nshi

        BACK OFF IMPOSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Slater

        Ha, so true. I think I’d rather watch Conan interview that squirrel than suffer more Leno.

      • kayla

        Always nice to come across another RSA member, and I’m totally with you on the twitter thing.

        Seeing Leno in the same 10 pm set made everything seem even more tired. Since it’s pretty much guaranteed his material will always be dull, you’d think they would have given him the newer set to add something shiny and new. Or at least send him back to the old one which could at least add some nostalgia points.

      • UGH

        What an arrogant douche-bag Leno is.
        I hate the term but I’m hoping for an epic failure on his return.

      • mossberg

        Leno should be put on at 3am – he would be the funniest host on TV and win all the ratings. Conan was a better host and funnier. Sometimes a show didn’t gel entirely, but take a look at some early Letterman shows and you’ll see the same thing.

      • Honey

        Conan’s tweets are genius. He’s actually the first celebrity I follow on twitter that I haven’t unfollowed after just a few days. He tweets once a day – and so far it has been 1000x funnier than anything Leno has ever done.

      • The Original Nshi

        Question for all the fake NSHIs –
        what was the first Nshi post?

      • Unbelievable

        Was the first Nshi post “Hi, I’m Nshi and I’m completely self-absorbed”?

      • The Original Nshi

        Nope. The point of this exercise is to show that those posting under the Nshi name are pathetic. Myself included.

      • Honest Abe

        If Leno isn’t as funny, why does he ALWAYS win in the ratings? If Conan has SO MANY fans… why didn’t they watch him when he was on? Conan fans are just sore loosers…

      • Reason

        No honest Abe Conan fans are people that can spell “loser”. Because they are educated enough to understand his humor. Go back to your blue collar job working on Leno’s cars and “servicing” his fluids.

      • Winer

        What’s a looser?

    • Anthony

      You know something…U SUCK!

      • jake

        Leno doesn’t suck, YOU SUCK

      • paul

        if you don’t think jay leno sucks, there’s obviously something wrong with your senses. make sure you call your doctor to set up an appointment early tomorrow morning. i’m worry about you.

      • Miss T

        I’m worry about your grammar, Paul. Sheesh!

      • Extra Crispy Nshi

        I think the first Nshi post was ” Hi I’m Nshi, and I’ll be annoying you on every EW post you visit!”

    • Mary Q. Contrary

      Leno’s a douche, and anyone who says different clearly works for him.

    • Dan

      Conan only got half the ratings Leno had, and was losing on all demos. The proof was that even Letterman was kicking Conan’s azz in the ratings. Good riddance, I’m glad Leno no longer has to do the heavy lifting for Conan(17 years). We’ll see how successful Conan can be on his own not depending on a lead-in or falling apart if he doesn’t get one. If Leno gets his old ratings back then we’ll know the low ratings Conan got was because he sucked.

      • LOL

        LOL! What a tool.

      • bill hater

        i know! conan is a tool! finally, someone comes up from between his cheeks

      • KC

        Good god are you serious? Check the facts. It was Leno that was failing, causing viewership of late news to slump and carried over to Conan.

      • amy

        Yes, and how do you suppose Jay would have done those years he was “dominating” if Johnny Carson had decided to be on at 9:00…with the same show?? Competing for the same guests?? Oh, and Johnny’s show was SO good..it was on FIVE days a week…instead of things like ER and Law & Order to lead in to the Tonight Show. Yes, we will see what happens next…

      • Honey

        Get your facts straight. Conan was losing in over all ratings, however he was winning the coveted 18-35 year old male demo and building on that very steadily despite the terrible lead in of Jay’s prime time show.

        And do remember that Leno struggled for around two years before claiming the number one spot.

        Leno may not have deserved to lose his show, but if you are going to defend him get your facts straight.

      • Lisa

        Are you kidding? Regardless of which host you like better, the fact is Conan had the deck stacked against him because Leno’s show was so bad and had such poor ratings. Even the local newscasts all over the country were complaining to NBC because THEY were losing marketshare because of Leno’s show’s performance. Bottom line: NBC caused this & NBC blew it.

      • Billy

        Hey doofus, even if Jay gets his old ratings back the comparison will be moot because he has already rid himself of the biggest albatross Conan had to deal with….Jay Leno as a lead in.

      • MaryJane

        Loved LENO! Jay was fantastic, and it was soooooooo great to see him back where he belongs. LONG LIVE LENO!

    • Gus van Rant

      Leno and Jamie Foxx deserve each other. They’re both lazy unfunny hacks.

      • Dinjab

        Jamie Foxx would still be doing a piece-of-s*** fifth-network sitcom if he didn’t have a good Ray Charles impersonation.

    • SLB

      Leno does suck. I never thought he was funny and would watch Letterman over him any day. He’s a d*uche for what he did to Conan and i don’t even like Conan.

    • S@mmar

      Jay is number one, I like Conan, but he is not on the same level.
      Weather you like it or not he is the undisputed king of the late shows.
      He can perform well in any studio, what matters is the talent not the location.

      • Jen

        Whether, not weather. Ugh.

    • Mina

      Leno was awesome! He is back where he belong, at 11:30 p.m. What goes around, comes around. Conan wanted the Tonite Show so bad that Leno was forced to leave the show to Conan eventhough Leno was #1. All of us wil be “older”at one point or another, so is it okay that our employer let’s us go to allow someone younger in your position eventhouhg you are doing a good job? Come on people.

    • HugoChavez

      Lindsay Vonn gives me wood.

  • sabrinaconnects

    Jamie was a bit hype tonight.

  • Alan

    I watched Leno and I actually thought it was pretty damn good. The “Wizard of Oz” bit in the beginning and the desk search were hilarious. I was a bit worried the show would fall flat but it exceeded my expectations. Here’s hoping he’s here to stay for a while at least! Welcome back, Leno!

    • James

      Wow…Leno must have his fat italian cock down your mouth…

      • Rachel

        Ugh, could you be any more offensive?

    • Dinjab

      What are you, Alan, like 68? What’s Jay gonna do when you and your buddies keel over?

      • Bunyak

        Unfortuneately Aln probably has more disposable income than James and Dinjab combined (if they are in that coveted 18-35 demographic – THAT HAVE NO REAL WEALTH). Get a grip and deal with the reality of business and advertising and which name ‘pays the bills’. Conan’s stunts came in a close second to that of my own kids’.

    • Mo

      Wow. I think Jay Leno is the unfunniest, lamest guy, and I love Conan, but James and Dinjab, you are unbelievable a$$holes. Do you just hide behind the anonymity of a message board to get out your aggression, or do you also beat up your wife and kids if they don’t call you “sir”? Alan stated an opinion. I don’t agree with it, but unlike a lot of commenters here, he didn’t stab Conan because he likes Leno. Somehow this gave you the right to insult him viciously why? And no, don’t give me another failed attempt at edgy humor (yeah, I get it, you thought you were being funny, but boy are you lame.) Pathetic.

      • Dinjab

        Mo, I do beat up my wife and kids. They like it. It’s a game in our family.

  • chris

    wow.

  • Jay

    Conan > Leno

    • lol

      Agree!!!

  • C Gomez

    I will never watch Leno again – what a backstabber! And he wasn’t very funny to begin with!

    • Robert

      Actually CONAN is the backstabber. He tried to usurp Jay’s job. Didn’t work.

      • UGH

        Ummmmm. Ok.
        Learn to read someday, pal.

      • Skip182

        Wow Robert, do you bother reading?

      • Isembard

        Robert = moron = Leno fan. Intelligent friends, pity the morons.

  • Gary

    Whoever wrote this article could not have been any more biased towards Chinny McStealshow. You could have at least done your job and reviewed the first show without your idiotic opinions. Ken, my friend, actually my urine soaked sponge, you really don’t matter in this world. To anybody.

    • Barney

      Pretty sure he was using sarcasm, buddy.

    • ger

      How do you suggest someone write an opinion piece without giving an opinion?

      • Skip182

        boom, roasted!

      • RJ

        Bazinga!

    • Me

      It’s his blog you idiot. He is supposed to write what he thinks.

    • John

      Why do you have a urine soaked sponge? Are you planning on washing your car with it or something?

    • Mike D

      Seriously, putting Ken Tucker in charge of posting a Leno recap has to be the most ignorant thing EW has ever done. What’s the point? He’s just going to do his typical one-dimensional blind Jay bashing. This isn’t a Conan fan site, it’s EW. How about some actual coverage?? I wonder if Ken writes his Jay trashing portions before or after the show… since he clearly knows exactly what he’s going to say before the show even starts. Jay could have had the greatest show ever, and there wouldn’t have been a kind word towards him in the entire piece. So WHY BOTHER!? We all know you can’t stand him. Let somebody else handle the Leno coverage. You’re entitled to your opinion, but when it’s the same every week for the last few MONTHS, it just becomes a waste of our time. Spare us, all-wise Tucker.

      • GinaBallerina

        Awesome comment and so true!

  • Bob

    I watched Letterman. Leno has always been the worst talk show host. He just kisses the celebs rears and tells the most poorly constructed jokes. Hack comedian Hacky Host. Coco is way funnier and In my opinion, the best interviewer on tv.

    • Gary

      I agree with Bob wholeheartedly. Leno appeals to Republican meatheads who laugh at anything like his former guitarist, Kevin Eubanks. Jay Leno is as funny as a Chilean earthquake. Yes, not funny at all.

      • Lisa

        My whole family is Republican and NONE of us like Leno. Meathead. . .

    • donner

      I watched Letterman because Dave is class and Leno is a hack. Bill and Dave were great together, as always. I won’t give Leno any of my airtime again. patiently waiting for Conan to kick Leno’s ass…

  • Bill

    I wont watch Leno on principle. I used to watch before Conan’s run, and he will be right back to boring in short order. Can’t wait to watch Conan on Fox. Been watching Craig Furgeson who is actually pretty funny guy.

  • Batdog

    The wizzard of oz bit was LAME!! but it is Leno.

  • G

    Never liked Leno. Jokes are really bad. Its old played out TV…Carson was a classic. Conan a genius. Why does anyone watch Leno. I’ve watched only when there is an interesting guest. I cant stand his monologue

  • Steve

    Welcome back to Milquetoast!

  • wino

    umm, ken, really, i understand you dont like jay, but must you misinterpet every word that comes out of his mouth? how the F was he taking a swipe at Conan (and NOT nbc) with his “feels good to be home” remark? you really are reaching

    • Lisa Simpson

      It’s obvious he’s been taking swipes at Conan with his smug promos. And it’s been awful to hear my local news during the Olympics plug his unfunny a$$ with their canned “Jay will be back where you love him” bits. Not that I planned on watching NBC after the Olympics, anyway.

  • smjump

    I watch Letterman, and then the best host of all, Craig Ferguson.

    • erin

      A vacuum should have the propah amount of´╗┐ succction! Most vacuums don’t have BALLS!!!

      • Ladyli1

        Too FUNNY!!

      • KC

        haha! I’ve been watching Craigy since Conan left too…

      • Isembard

        I’ve always been torn between my Conan and my Craigie. Both so original and genuine. That stupid Dyson impression still makes me laugh out loud just thinking about it.

    • That’s why god created tivo

      Dave, Craig,Conan and the two Jimmys rule, I am sorry to say Jay isn’t remotely in their respective genius comedy world, even Carson Daly has more creative intelligent energy. Jay is like the boss who puts in 40 years, never gives 150%, never suggests a new idea and the reason the bosses love him is because he causes no trouble and shows up every day no matter how much he screws up. I hope his fans are happy, the king of boredom has returned to put them all to sleep

  • burl

    Jay Leno- live blogged.

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