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Conan O’Brien to Replace Leno on ‘Tonight Show’ in ’09

Sep 27, 2004  •  Post A Comment

In an e-mail Monday NBC Universal Television Group President Jeff Zucker informed network staffers that current “Late Night” host Conan O’Brien will replace current “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno in 2009.

“Jay Leno will continue to helm ‘The Tonight Show’ for another five years, well into 2009, after which time Conan O’Brien will become host of ‘The Tonight Show,'” the e-mail said. “Jay will officially make the announcement on his show tonight.”

Monday’s show marks “The Tonight Show’s” 50th anniversary.

“In 2009 I’ll be 59 years old and will have had this dream job for 17 years,” Mr. Leno said in a network press release. “When I signed my new contract, I felt that the timing was right to plan for my successor, and there is no one more qualified than Conan. Plus, I promised Mavis I would take her out for dinner before I turned 60.”

According to NBC Mr. O’Brien has signed a new contract with the network in a long-term deal that will keep him host of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” for the next five years and then has him taking over as host of “The Tonight Show” from Mr. Leno.

Mr. Leno began guest hosting “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in September 1987 and became the show’s fourth permanent host May 25, 1992, replacing 30-year veteran Johnny Carson. Mr. O’Brien joined NBC as a writer on “Saturday Night Live” in 1988 and premiered as host of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” on September 13, 1993.