JAY LENO ANNOUNCES THAT HIS LAST GUEST ON NBC’S ‘THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO’ WILL BE FRANCHISE HEIR CONAN O’BRIEN

Jay Leno announced today that “Tonight Show” heir Conan O’Brien is scheduled to be the final guest to sit on his famed couch during Leno’s last show as host of the franchise on May 29. O’Brien, who has appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” 16 times previously, will be taking over the coveted hosting duties beginning on June 1.

In addition, the week leading up to Leno’s finale as host of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” will feature special guests and friends of the show including:

Monday, May 25: Mel Gibson will make his 21st appearance on the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in his first sit-down interview since the announcement of his impending divorce.

Tuesday, May 26: Arnold Schwarzenegger made headlines when he made the now famous surprise announcement that he was running for governor of California during an appearance in 2003 and he will take to the couch again for his 25th appearance on the show.

Wednesday, May 27: Comedian Wanda Sykes, hot off her hosting duties at the White House Correspondents dinner, makes her 25th appearance with Leno.

Thursday, May 28: Billy Crystal boasts the title of the first guest ever to take a seat on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” when he appeared on the initial broadcast on May 25, 1992.

The musical guests for the week include Lyle Lovett who will appear on Monday, May 25 while Dwight Yoakam takes the stage on Tuesday, May 26. Both are currently tied for the most appearances made by a musician and both will round out “The Tonight Show” with 25 appearances each. Sarah McLachlan, Prince and James Taylor will wrap up the week.

In addition to the special guests, video packages honoring 17 years of moments, gaffes and laughs on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” will premiere throughout the week.

Leno opened his first monologue as host “The Tonight Show” on May 25, 1992, with a joke about Vice President Dan Quayle’s concerns about “Murphy Brown’s” title character becoming a single mother. Since then, he’s delivered as many as 130,000 jokes in 17-years of hosting the leading late-night franchise.

“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has never strayed from its tradition of booking the top celebrities, musicians, politicians and newsmakers keeping its audience on the cutting edge of pop culture and current events and in March 2009 the show made history when it hosted the President of the United States. President Barack Obama’s appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” remains the only late-night appearance by a sitting President.

In 1999 “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” becoming the first American nightly talk show to be shot in HD. With its constant commitment to topical humor, guests and the latest trends in broadcast the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has finished #1 in the late-night race for the last 14 consecutive seasons.

Leno, recently named America’s Favorite TV Personality by the 2009 Harris Poll, announced in December of 2008 that while he will be leaving “The Tonight Show” he will remain at NBC and embark on an adventure that marks a new era in television. “The Jay Leno Show” will be the first-ever entertainment program to be stripped across primetime on broadcast network television and will showcase many of the features that have made Leno America’s late-night leader for more than a dozen years.

Conan O’Brien, the dominant late-night host at 12:35 a.m. for the past 14 seasons, will succeed Jay Leno as host of the preeminent series on late-night television, NBC’s “The Tonight Show” on June 1, 2009. The announcement was made by Leno during a taping of “The Tonight Show” on September 27, 2004.

“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” is from Big Dog Productions in association with Universal Media Studios. Debbie Vickers is the executive producer.

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