Jay Leno will close out his 22-year run as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” with a nod to the future and to the past.
His heir apparent, Jimmy Fallon, will kick off Leno’s final week with a guest appearance on Feb. 3. Fallon is taking over the gig after hosting NBC’s “Late Night” since 2009.
Leno’s final night, on Feb. 6, will feature Billy Crystal, who was Leno’s first guest in May 1992 when he succeeded Johnny Carson. Country superstar Garth Brooks will also appear.
Leno’s last week will also include Betty White, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, country singer Blake Shelton, musician Lyle Lovett and NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
Fallon reveals first ‘Tonight’ slate
Jimmy Fallon will open his run as the host of NBC’s “Tonight” show with actor Will Smith and the rock band U2 as guests.
NBC is debuting the Fallon regime on Feb. 17 at midnight following the Winter Olympics. It will slip into its regular slot following the local news a week later, with Seth Meyers inheriting “Late Night.”
Fallon says he has talked to “Tonight” show incumbent Jay Leno regularly during the transition. One piece of advice that Fallon has already taken is to increase the length of his monologue.
Although Fallon is moving “Tonight” to New York from the West Coast, he said he will take the show on the road – including to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks a year.
SNL debuts new cast member
Sasheer Zamata made a low-key but notable debut on “Saturday Night Live” as the first black female cast member since 2007.
As usual for a “SNL” newcomer, Zamata kept a low profile on Saturday’s broadcast. She participated in sketches in roles including Rihanna and a teenager at a slumber party.
The 27-year-old comedian and improv performer was signed earlier this month in the wake of criticism of “SNL” for its lack of ethnic diversity. Black male cast members Kenan Thompson and Jay Pharoah were among those voicing complaints last fall.
The birthday bunch
Comedian Arte Johnson is 85. Movie director David Lynch is 68. Rock musician Paul Stanley (KISS) is 62. Rock musician Ian Hill (Judas Priest) is 62. Comedian Bill Maher is 58. Actor Lorenzo Lamas is 56. Actor Rainn Wilson is 48. TV personality Melissa Rivers is 46. Actor Skeet Ulrich is 44. Rock musician Rob Bourdon (Linkin Park) is 35. Singer/songwriter Bonnie McKee is 30. Country singer Brantley Gilbert is 29. Rock singer Kevin Parker (Tame Impala) is 28.