I’m watching Billy Crystal serenade Jay in the prelude to his Friday finale as host of “The Tonight Show.” It’s great to see all the flashbacks, with my choice of late night variety leaning toward Leno as opposed to Letterman. I’m not quite sure if it was due to his location out west, his famous “chin” and crazy hair, or just the fact that my best friend Brad loved Letterman. He lived next door so I’d often be watching late night television there. His whole family loved Letterman, so naturally I would lean the opposite. Yes, Dave’s Top Ten is legendary but so is Leno’s monologue, not counting the enormous shoes that Jay had to fill. Rumor has it that Letterman still hasn’t shaken the sour taste over not being chosen to replace the legendary Johnny Carson. The Late Night War between Leno & Letterman was even waged across giant billboards in Times Square years back. You remember Dave’s GIANT mug proudly proclaiming to be #3 in late night! It was great for their ratings, great for the fans, and great for their careers. It will be interesting to see if Letterman has openly addresses the Leno/Conan transition on the air
With that, they have just brought Prince out of the woodwork. And yes, that is how he was introduced. Not “The Artist Formerly Known As,” not “The Artist,” no symbols, just Prince. The dude looks like he hasn’t aged a day in 20 years. Very nice performance by the way, albeit a little creepy, but the crowd loved it. NBC has already spoiled the final episode tomorrow night, and what I did see seemed to look rather awkward. The common mantra all week with Leno’s guests has been “well you’re going out on top.” Or “at least in prime-time you will get home earlier at night!” And then you look at Jay, and he’s thinking, “Do you really think I want to leave this gig! $18 million a year!! Do you know how much money that is in a recession!?!" It was right around my birthday in 2004 that Conan was first tabbed to replace Jay in late summer of ‘09. Many fans, myself included never envisioned this day coming so soon. I actually really enjoy Conan O’Brien and frequently stayed up to catch him after Jay. Undoubtedly “The Tonight Show” will continue forward as #1 in late night. And no need to worry ol’ faithful fans of Leno. He will be back in the fall, ironically right before Conan.