Hopefully, history isn’t repeating itself with Jay Leno’s February 2014 departure from The Tonight Show. “Nothing would make us happier than for him à la Bob Hope to still be a presence on the network. We’re really hoping to do that post February,” NBC boss Bob Greenblatt said at a Television Critics Association panel Saturday. Hope hosted a series of specials for the network spanning multiple decades. Greenblatt added that the network has been in talks with Leno about specific projects but he had nothing to announce.
With Leno’s exit about half a year away, he’s still #1 in the ratings, so it makes perfect sense why NBC wants to keep him around instead of letting him go to another network. “We predicted that we would see a boost when we announced this would be Jay’s final year,” Greenblatt explained. “The same happened with Johnny Carson and Jay’s previous final year.” It should be interesting to see what NBC tries to do with Leno post-Tonight Show, as the previous two hosts of the program, Johnny Carson and Conan O’Brien, have had zero presence at the network since departing (justifiably so in O’Brien’s case). As long as they don’t put Leno on at 10pm, it should be fine.