The Daily News, Longview, May 24, 2007
Jay Leno, marking his 15th year as host of “The Tonight Show” on Friday, understands his role with NBC’s late-night institution like a good comedian knows timing.
“Tonight” isn’t his; he’s just borrowing it.
“The real trick is you never really do own these shows. You try not to screw it up for the next person,” Leno said. “It’s like the America’s Cup (sailing trophy). You want to win it and you want to keep it No. 1, and when it’s over you say, ‘Whew, OK, your problem now.’”
The only one who could stake a claim, he said, was Johnny Carson, who presided over the NBC program for 30 years (1962-92) as its third high-profile host and the most enduring.
“Obviously, Johnny owned the show and set the tone. Steve Allen was great and Jack Paar was great, but every talk show is a variation of what Johnny did. You’re always in that shadow,” Leno said.