(NEW YORK) — Jay Leno says it is much less awkward for him to give up The Tonight Show now than it was in 2009, when he handed over the NBC late-night program to Conan O’Brien for a brief time.
Leno joined his successor, Jimmy Fallon, for a joint interview that aired on NBC’s Today show Monday. Leno said he was asked for his input regarding the latest transition, whereas “the last time I was sort of told, ‘This is what’s happening.'”
O’Brien lasted as Tonight Show host for only seven months before Leno return to the program in 2010.
Leno wondered if Fallon “wasn’t here, would I still be here? Probably another year or so.” He conceded he’ll miss appearing nightly on The Tonight Show, but he said he will not move on to another late-night hosting gig.
Leno had kind words for Fallon, comparing him to the legendary comic he replaced on The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson. Fallon was equally gracious, telling Leno he hopes he makes him proud.
Leno previously addressed the upcoming Tonight Show change to CBS’ 60 Minutes over the weekend, saying, “It’s not my decision and I think I probably would have stayed if we didn’t have an extremely qualified young guy ready to jump in.”
Leno’s last day on The Tonight Showis Feb. 6. Fallon makes his Tonight Show debut on Feb. 17.
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Lisa Respers France, CNN
Rachel Sande, EastIdahoNews.com