"We'll start at 10 p.m. right after the last hour of the Today show," Leno says in his monologue

By Mike Fleeman and Eunice Oh
Updated December 09, 2008 08:00 PM
Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty

What’s so funny about Jay Leno going to primetime?

Everything, according to the outgoing Tonight Show host and his late-night replacement, Conan O’Brien.

“We’re going to be doing a new show in the fall,” Leno said in his monologue Tuesday. “We’ll start at 10 p.m. right after the last hour of the Today show.

And, he added, “As you may have heard there were rumblings that I was leaving NBC and going to ABC, and let me tell you something, those were nothing but rumors started by a disgruntled employee: ME!”

NBC announced that Leno will stay with the struggling network and host a new primetime comedy/talk show five nights a week starting in the fall of 2009.

“We’re going to try it,” Leno said later in the show. “If it works, great. If it doesn’t, we’ve had a hell of a ride. For the last 17 years, it’s been a privilege to say, ‘Please stay tuned for Conan,’ and I’m glad I’ll be able to do that again.”

O’Brien, who is taking over the Tonight Show, opened his late-night show Tuesday by saying, “I saw something on the front page of the paper that absolutely shocked me. I was stunned and I have to say I didn’t see this coming and I just had to share it with you for a second.”

O’Brien opened a New York Post with the Leno news on the front page and then a New York Daily News, also with the Leno headline, and complained the two papers gave different weather forecasts.

“Let’s get our stories straight here, people! This is insanity!” he said.

On a more serious note, O’Brien said, “I’ve talked a lot about this with Jay. I am thrilled. I am absolutely thrilled that Jay is staying at NBC. He has been my lead-in on this program for 16 seasons. He is a fantastic lead-in. He is a huge part of my success. I am indebted to Jay Leno. And I love the idea that that relationship is going to continue.”

After congratulating Leno, he added, “Also I’ve talked it over with my producer and that means I can keep doing my Jay Leno impression.”