Jay Leno to stagehands: "Hey guys, guys, leave those boxes. I'm not going anywhere! Yeah, we're staying!"
That's how the late-night host opened his first Tonight Show monologue since NBC announced that, starting in the fall, he'll launch a new nightly show that will plug up the network's flailing primetime schedule. (The live feed of the recording of Tuesday's show was made available to journalists, hence the timing of this story.)
Leno's show will air at 10 pm/ET every weeknight, "right after the last hour of the Today show," he cracked, and will include many of the Tonight Show elements made famous by the comic, including "Headlines" and "Jaywalking." He dismissed the rumblings that he would be moving to a late-night slot over at ABC as "rumors started by a disgruntled employee... me." He also joked that, in response to Tuesday's shocking announcement, CBS countered by moving David Letterman's show to 9:59 pm/ET.
Conan O'Brien, who will be taking over the Tonight Show from Leno in 2009, commented on NBC's announcement Tuesday with a reverent tone: "I am absolutely thrilled that Jay is staying at NBC," he said during his show's taping. "He has been my lead-in on this program for 16 seasons. He is a fantastic lead-in."
"He is a huge part of my success," O'Brien added, according to the AP. "I am indebted to Jay Leno. And I love the idea that this relationship is going to continue."
NBC has yet to detail how Leno's show will affect the rest of their prime time schedule, though they've gotten a head start on clearing out the time slot by canceling Lipstick Jungle and My Own Worst Enemy.
Tuesday's show also features guests P. Diddy (who was there to promote his new fragrance, hilariously called I Am King), actress Kate Beckinsale and a Jaywalking segment about Christmas carols.
What do you think of NBC's programming shuffle? Are you glad to get your Leno at a more bedtime-friendly hour? Or is two hours of late-night talk shows enough for you? More importantly: Will you still watch Conan?
Watch full episodes and clips of The Tonight Show in our Online Video Guide