Bumps in the Night: Movieline's Year in Late Night TV

It was a year chock full of transition for the after hours set; Conan O'Brien moved to Los Angeles to head the Tonight Show, Jay Leno left the Tonight Show to slaughter NBC's scripted programming with a prime time experiment, George Lopez gave TBS an hour long chola makeover and David Letterman flip-flopped between beloved, blackmailed, and back again. So let's take a moment to remember each of those major blows, as well as the head injuries and scuffles that came along with them, after the jump.

· Back in June, Conan O'Brien ran 3,000 miles cross-country to begin his term as Tonight Show host, a position that came with an awesome Super Mario Bros. set, one head injury and a firm anti-Newark, New Jersey stance.

· Movieline learned a lot of about Craig Ferguson's affection for Betty White and the Scotsman's extensive puppet collection from Late Late Show producer Michael Naidus. Although most stars used Ferguson's show to promote their films, Mo'Nique preferred to spend her segment flirting shamelessly with the host.

· After a few homicidal promos, laughless previews, and rumors of desklessness, Jay Leno premiered his prime time NBC experiment to the predicted negative reviews citing recycled bits and a show remarkably similar to his Tonight Show. The denim deity did find some spontaneous moments in his Burbank rubble with a timely Kanye West interview and that ping-pong wipe-out two weeks ago.

· It was difficult transitioning out of his comfortable Tonight Show gig, and like anyone making a life-changing choice, Jay Leno voiced passive-aggressive regret about his decision to Andy Richter's dismay.

· David Letterman shocked audience members in October when he revealed an extortion plot against him, after 48 Hours producer Joe Halderman demanded $2 million from the host in exchange for not shopping a screenplay with information about the host's interoffice dalliances. After Letterman made the appropriate apologies on-air, Joe Halderman hired the hardest-working man in showbiz to represent him in court and Movieline dramatically recreated Letterman's torrid love letters to a former assistant. Letterman later earned major self-effacement points for his Tiger Woods monologue.

· David Letterman did his fair share of listening too, allowing Jeremy Piven to explain that fishy mercury poisoning, hearing out Jonah Hill's victimization-by-Twitter, and later found time to offend Sarah Palin and interview President Barack Obama.

· In November, Wanda Sykes premiered her weekend talk show with a skit about recycling sex toys.

· Despite disappointing promos and low expectations at Movieline, George Lopez proved that he is a worthy late night opponent and is unafraid of risky new segments, like Chola Makeovers and Bullet Wound Games.

· Jimmy Fallon scored a coveted Zach Morris interview and played a Late Night-friendly version of beer pong with Kate Hudson and beer pong pro January Jones.

· Chelsea Lately perpetuated rumors of a hilarious Modern Family feud between Julie Bowen and Sofía 'The Chola Barbie' Vergara that Jesse Tyler Ferguson later cleared up. And Jennifer Aniston's appearance on the E! late nighter was so positive that she entertained the idea of her own talk show.

· Although Jay Leno dealt with his fair share of critical blows and ratings so weak that they were eventually beat by cable programs, he did win the title for most product-placements (evidence of the Wendy's-whoring here).

· Movieline also took the time to remember the Top 10 Late Night Talk Show Appearances of the Decade, Madonna's looong history with David Letterman and we are still trying to figure out which Tom Cruise Late Show appearance inspired Christian Bale's chilling American Psycho performance.

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