Jay Leno’s last night hosting the "Tonight" show is today, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Bill Carter of The New York Times notes that Leno’s departure tonight is one that is more subdued than were the exits of previous hosts Johnny Carson and Jack Paar.
Writes Carter: "The more subdued send-off Mr. Leno is getting is partly of his own doing. Always a man who disdained emotional displays, he has tamped down the attention surrounding this departure. He has been careful to avoid any hint of the drama that surrounded his brief hiatus in 2009 and 2010, when he and Conan O’Brien engaged in a rapid-fire — and acrimonious — sequence of entrances and exits.
"What has mattered to Mr. Leno is winning. Nothing mattered more to him than succeeding Johnny Carson on ‘Tonight.’ When he did, he was determined to maintain the show’s status as the premier address in an overcrowded late-night neighborhood. His ability to do so, by dominating the late-night ratings, may be his signature legacy."
Carter also writes: "Mr. Leno was never defined by breaking new ground in television comedy, or filling the Internet with highlight clips. Nor did he rack up accolades from critics or fellow comedians. ‘He said it many times over, said [Rick Ludwin, formerly in charge of late-night programming at NBC], who left NBC after a falling out with Mr. Leno. ‘He is in the business of getting people to show up. Jay is a comic. He wants to count the house.’"
In the long piece Carter also notes: "Mr. Leno also drew fire when he replaced Mr. O’Brien on ‘Tonight’ in early 2010, with critics suggesting he had again maneuvered around a rival to obtain the job he wanted.
"To Mr. Leno, however, defying his opponents, and pulling himself up off the floor, was a crucial talent. ‘I can get hit a lot,’ he said then. ‘I can get hit all day long.’
"That was one of several qualities that underscored Mr. Leno’s single-mindedness. His mantra about his simple approach was: ‘Write joke, tell joke, get check.’…"
We urge you to click on the link above to read all of Carter’s article.