Friday, February 26, 2010

Jay Leno: Will he have guest hosts?

A new report in the Los Angeles Times suggests that with Jay Leno back on "The Tonight Show," the future of the venerable franchise is, once again, uncertain. Who will take over when 59-year-old Jay is finally ready to step down? "NBC would be wise to start test-piloting some guest hosts in the Leno slot,"says Jeffrey McCall, professor of media studies at DePauw University.

Of course, Jay has been reluctant to have guest hosts in the past -- Rosie O'Donnell revealed last month that Leno vetoed a plan to have her guest host "Tonight" -- but he's a company man at heart, and if the bosses insist, he'll probably go along with it.

Jimmy Fallon may yet prove that he's the man for the job, but after only a year in the 12:30 slot, he hasn't been around long enough to earn the heir apparent title. He frequently loses to CBS' Craig Ferguson in the ratings, but has been doing well with the younger demographic.

So if Leno allows guest hosts to take over for him occasionally, who do you want to see? Here are a few possible contenders:

Joel McHale: The host of E!'s "The Soup" and star of NBC's "Community" has been honing his stand-up skills over the past couple years. He seems a natural for the job, and guest hosting could help promote his sitcom, which would surely appeal to the network suits.

Seth Meyers: Another NBC man, the "Weekend Update" anchor has proven he can tell jokes, but would he be able to do an unironic interview with the second lead on "Gossip Girl"?

Chelsea Handler: She has her own show, natch, but she seems to have positioned herself firmly on Team Leno, and could bring a snarky, female POV to the boys' club of late night network talk shows.

Jim Gaffigan: A long shot, considering his "Pale Force" association with Conan, but he's a likable presence with the same sort of mid-American appeal as Leno.

Bonnie Hunt: Her daytime talk show has been canceled and will disappear off the airwaves in a few months, so she'll need a new gig. Maybe she'd do better at night.

Kathy Griffin: OK, so she'd probably host the show once and say something outrageous and offensive enough to get herself banned for life from NBC, but if she could keep it together, she'd surely lure viewers with her "what will she say next?" persona.

Other suggestions? Post them in the comments.


  1. Joey said...

    I can not think of any suitable takers for the Tonight Show chair at this moment but my guess is that NBC might try Ellen Degeneres before most of the names you listed.

    Even though I do not care for her comedy, too silly and bland for me, she is a safe bet and mainstream enough for the Tonight Show audience.

    NBC will also sell it as being the first permanent female on the Tonight Show.

  2. Steve K. said...

    Heck no, Ellen has her show and it seems to be doing very well.

    I think Bonnie is a more likely candidate to be the "first permanent female on the Tonight Show". Although i couldn't watch most of her daytime show ("aawwww" this, "aawww" that), she guest-hosted the Late Show a while ago and did fine (tiny bit here:

    I was kinda hoping Joel would get Late Night after Conan left, but right now he went all SERIUS ACTARR DURR HURR so i dunno, but i'm still hoping he'll guest-host.

    I just like there being guest hosts like once a week. Forever. Then maybe i'll stop associating Tonight Show with just Leno and actually watch it once in a while.

  3. Joey said...

    Steve K:

    Ellen has her show but as Leno, O'Brien and other comedians have mentioned before, the Tonight Show is the comedian's dream job. If she gets the offer she will take it in a heartbeat and drop her daytime show. Her current stint in American Idol would help her to gain some younger audience, the one that networks covet so much for advertising. I do not think Bonnie has that much appeal with the younger audience.

    I like Bonnie Hunt better than Ellen but the suits at NBC will take Ellen before Bonnie.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Conan O'Brien! ~