The 5 Craziest Things No One Saw Coming When The Jay Leno Show Debuted One Year Ago Today

Happy anniversary, Jay Leno! On Sept. 14, 2009, The Jay Leno Show premiered on NBC to much fanfare (as Time foolishly prognosticated, "Jay Leno is the Future of Television") but not much in the way of ratings. A year later, the show is but a memory, and not a particularly funny one; The Jay Leno Show wasn't even good enough to become a Chevy Chase Show-like punchline. Still, a lot happened in the last 365 days and ahead, Movieline offers you a compendium of the five most unexpected, Leno-related events.

1.) Conangate

Um, duh. Not even the most cynical among us could have imagined a scenario where Leno would fail spectacularly as host of The Jay Leno Show, get stamped "return to sender" and shipped back to The Tonight Show. That decision -- valid or not -- remains the biggest do-over in television history, permanently marring Leno's reputation and turning Conan O'Brien into the Che Guevera of Twitter.

2.) Conan's Tour and New TBS Show

Think back to last September: If you had been told that by next year, Conan O'Brien would have spent his spring and summer touring the country with a comedy routine while preparing for his TBS late night show -- not even a late-night show on Fox! -- your head would have spun around. At least Fox still has those Seinfeld reruns, though.

3.) Letterman, Leno and Oprah Watch the Super Bowl

Not surprising: The unofficial brotherhood of late night hosts banded together to tear down Jay Leno when Conangate reached its nadir. Very surprising: That Leno-bashing ringleader David Letterman would sit down with the big-chinned host (and pal Oprah Winfrey) for a Super Bowl commercial. Seeing this was as jarring as that David Bowie/Bing Crosby duet on "Little Drummer Boy."

4.) Kevin Eubanks and Max Weinberg Say Goodbye

Say what you will about Eubanks and Weinberg, but they are late night institutions. That neither are still part of their respective programs -- especially after Weinberg tried to jump ship to Leno -- signifies the end of an era. O'Brien will be fine with Richie "LaBamba" Rosenberg, but Leno still seems uncomfortable with Rickey Minor.

5.) Leno Beats Letterman... Again

His numbers may be lower than ever, but it's worth noting that Leno is still beating Letterman in the late night ratings. Come on, haters: start praying harder to the gods of schadenfreude.


  • Martini Shark says:

    One other surprise in all this: Conan would end up pulling a Leno on the George Lopez talk show. No, check that -- the bigger surprise was finding out that Lopez actually had his own talk show.

  • What's surprising about Lopez's show is it seems like something happened between now and when he had a sitcom - where now he barely knows English words.