Lately, NBC has been advertising Jay Leno celebrating 20 years at NBC, which is not entirely accurate. He has been with NBC for more than 20 years, the first few were spent as permanent guest host of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. NBC should be saying Leno has been hosting The Tonight Show for 20 years. Wait, that’s not right either, even though NBC wants to be able to insist otherwise. In reality, Leno has been regularly hosting a nightly talk show for 20 years: 19 years as host of The Tonight Show, 5 months as host of The Jay Leno Show.
Let’s be honest. It is impressive that Leno has been on the air for 20 years, but there is a huge segment of the population that holds a grudge against him. They are the ones who will always remember that Conan O’Brien hosted The Tonight Show for 7 months, which NBC would rather forget. They are the very reason Team Coco exists and Conan is now happy on TBS.
Last night, Dateline NBC celebrated its 20th Anniversary with a special that was less a special and more a regular episode. While it was nice to catch up with Michael J. Fox and Anne Curry’s favorite sextuplets, I was expecting more about the history of Dateline. I wanted NBC to show how Dateline has evolved from that from first show into what it is today. Instead, viewers saw four interviews catching us up on four different topics: Michael J. Fox and Parkinson’s, two families brought together by a bus accident and accidental mix-up of their daughters, the first sextuplets to be born and survive, and Carrie Underwood’s success since winning American Idol. It was not a bad episode, just typical. This was the type of special usually reserved for those odd anniversaries like the seventeenth where a big special seems inappropriate, but no one wants to let the anniversary pass without a mention.
I know for some people it is hard to believe that Johnny Carson has not hosted The Tonight Show in 20 years. While I am too young to remember Johnny, I am aware of his legacy. As a David Letterman fan, I constantly hear Dave talk about how Johnny is the only true King of Late Night. To remember Johnny and his legacy, here is his appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Johnny even brings his own desk.
Part 2 of the video is after the link.