Jay Leno

Jay Leno (born James Douglas Muir-Leno April 28, 1950) is an American comedian who is best known as the current host of NBC television's long-running variety and talk program The Tonight Show. He also owns Big Dog Productions, a company that co-produces the show.

Leno was born in New Rochelle, New York to a Scottish mother who came to the United States as a teenager and an Italian-American father. He grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, and received his Bachelor's degree in Speech therapy from Emerson College in 1973.

Leno started his career performing in nightclubs, bars, and any place that would give him even five minutes of stage time, including Dairy Queen[citation needed]. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, he performed at the restaurant in the Orson Welles Cinema complex. He quickly became known for his work ethic and nice demeanor both on- and offstage, as well as for his striking appearance, in particular his large chin and his sarcastic personality. Though he had made the occasional foray onto television in the form of guest appearances on The Tonight Show, then hosted by Johnny Carson, stardom eluded him and he continued to work wherever he was allowed. It has been reported that Leno would sometimes work as many as eight or nine clubs in one evening.

During the late 1970s he was frequently featured as the opening act at John Denver concerts.

For a few years in the 1970's, both Jay and his later rival David Letterman wrote for standup comic Jimmie "J.J" Walker, who was starring in the sitcom "Good Times."

Leno began making more frequent appearances on television when many of his friends and contemporaries became more influential on late night programs. Leno made a record number of appearances on Late Night with David Letterman. His popularity was noted by NBC executives, who decided to make Leno the permanent guest and then the host for The Tonight Show after Johnny Carson left that position.

Even after serving as host of The Tonight Show for 14 years, Leno still performs stand-up on a regular basis; he often performs weekend shows in Las Vegas after wrapping up show production for the week. In addition, as a regular tune-up for The Tonight Show, he performs frequently on weekends at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, California.

On an episode of Inside the Actor's Studio Leno stated that he has never touched a cent of his Tonight Show earnings, stating that he still lives off the earnings of his stand-up performances. When asked by James Lipton why he does this he stated that "My original profession was and still is a comedian, not a personality".

When Carson retired in 1992 Jay Leno became the new permanent host of The Tonight Show after a long period of debate and negotiations with Leno and David Letterman (who had been considered by many to be Carson's heir apparent). Letterman signed a deal with CBS, sparking an ongoing late-night rivalry between the two talk-show hosts. Although Letterman's Late Show led in the ratings at the start, The Tonight Show took over the lead in 1995 and has, on the whole, had higher ratings ever since.

Although known mainly for his wit he was mainly known for his flamboyant behavior with guests. He has also shown his sensitive side on air. When The Tonight Show came back after the September 11 attacks, he nixed his usual monologue to talk about what had happened. He also spoke about the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. In addition, following the skating controversy surrounding the ice skating pairs event at the 2002 Winter Olympics, Leno invited the Canadian pairs teams onto his show the following day and waved a Canadian flag and played "O Canada" for them. And when Johnny Carson died in January 2005, he did one night of the The Tonight Show as a tribute to his predecessor.

In 1998, Jay Leno and his show partner Kevin Eubanks were invited to a wrestling show called WCW Road Wild 1998, from Sturgis, South Dakota, in which Leno teamed with Diamond Dallas Page to wrestle against Hulk Hogan and WCW President Eric Bischoff, following a prelude in which the wrestling stars had appeared on The Tonight Show. The match ended with Page and Leno's victory when Eubanks sneaked a fast Diamond Cutter on Bischoff.

In 2002, Leno had a group of professionals build him a robot called "Chin Killa" for Battlebots. Although the officials from the show let his robot fight in fun matches, they wouldn't allow it to fight in tournaments because it was built by professionals.

On May 12, 2003, he and former Today Show host Katie Couric switched places, meaning Leno co-hosted the Today Show with Matt Lauer.

On The Tonight Show's 50-year anniversary episode (September 27, 2004), he announced that he would retire as host in 2009, when his current contract expires, as part of an arrangement that allowed NBC to have Late Night host Conan O'Brien replace him.

According to the Forbes 100, Leno earned $32 million in 2005, which is surprisingly less than his rival David Letterman who tops Leno by $8 million, with a $40 million paycheck in '05. Letterman apparently owns the rights to his program, as opposed to Leno inheriting the long running Tonight Show.

In October 2006, rumors started to circulate that ABC is considering courting Jay Leno for a possible jump to that network once Leno's current contract expires with NBC in 2009. In a related note, Jay is said to be upset with NBC for making him retire as the host of The Tonight Show.

Leno is not widely known as an actor (legendarily, in auditioning for a role on Mork & Mindy which would go to Jay Thomas, he was told that he had a face that would scare children), but he had a number of small roles early in his career in mostly unsuccessful movies; an exception was a bit part in the more popular film, American Hot Wax.

His most prominent role was in the 1989 film Collision Course, a comedy about a mismatched crime fighting pair, in which he played a detective opposite Pat Morita. When Steve Martin appeared on Leno's The Tonight Show in December 2005, a clip from the movie appeared during Martin's game of "Name That Clip" (Leno was supposed to differentiate clips from Martin's two new movies Shopgirl and Cheaper by the Dozen 2, with Martin taking twenty dollars from Leno if he got one wrong.) The last clip played was from Collision Course, which Leno immediately said was "a horrible movie." Martin said Leno was right, but he would still lose twenty dollars for making it.

Leno also appeared in an episode of the television series Good Times, in which his character promotes getting tested for venereal diseases. His acting debut actually found himself as one of the "pool guys" in the original 1977 version of Fun with Dick and Jane.

Since becoming the host of the Tonight Show, Leno has made a number of cameo appearances, usually appearing as a talk show host or making fun of his famous chin. In 1994 he played "Bedrock's Most Wanted Host," along with Cynthia Clemons, in the live-action comedy film The Flintstones. Also in 1994, he played himself in Major League II which starred Charlie Sheen. In 1998, he made a voice cameo as himself on an episode of The Simpsons entitled The Last Temptation of Krust. He also made appearances on the sitcoms The Nanny, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Titus. Making fun of his own facial features, it is true that he plays the "Crimson Chin" on The Fairly Odd Parents. In 2005, he lent his voice to a talking fire hydrant in the computer animated movie, Robots. He also made a cameo appearance for Fox NFL Sunday in a ficticious interview with prognasticator Frank Caliendo's impression of Terry Bradshaw. In 2006, he provided the voice of an armadillo named "Fast Tony" in Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, and in the Pixar/Disney film Cars he voiced "Jay Limo". He made a cameo appearance in an episode of TV sitcom Just Shoot Me, in a fictitious interview with David Spade's character, Dennis Finch. He made at least one appearance on NBC's The West Wing playing himself at a California fundraiser for the president, Jed Bartlet. He has also appeared on Home Improvement as a mechanic in a wealthy car collector's garage (in reality his own collection).

He also appeared as himself, doing Tonight Show monologues regarding the main characters in the films Mr. 3000, Contact, First Daughter, Dave, In & Out, and The Birdcage. In the movie Space Cowboys, he hosted a fictional Tonight Show segment featuring the four astronaut protagonists (played by Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Tommy Lee Jones, and Donald Sutherland) just before their space mission. Later, in a case of life imitating art, the four actors appeared together on The Tonight Show to promote their film.

In the 2005 trial of Michael Jackson over allegations of child abuse, Leno appeared as a defense witness (many celebrity defense witnesses had been expected, but Leno was one of the few who actually testified). As a witness in the case, Leno was initially not allowed to continue telling jokes about Jackson or the case, which had been a fixture of the show's opening monologue in particular; however, he and his show's writers exploited a legal loophole by having Leno briefly step aside while stand-in comedians took the stage and told jokes regarding the trial. Stand-ins included Roseanne Barr, Drew Carey, Brad Garrett, and Dennis Miller, among others.

After NBC challenged the gag order, the judge permitted Leno to make jokes, as long as they were not related to his testimony. After the gag order was lifted, the next show featured a monologue entirely of Michael Jackson jokes.

In his testimony, the defense expected him to say he called police to say the accuser was coached by his mother to ask for money. Instead, Leno testified he never called the police, no money was asked for, and there was no coaching but that the calls seemed unusual and scripted.

In automobile collecting circles, Jay Leno is known as an avid student, collector and restorer of cars and motorcycles. He has a large antique car collection on which he constantly works in his spare time, and he routinely drives cars from his collection (including an original Stanley Steamer) from his home to his studio. He is also a promoter of the mechanical crafts through a column in Popular Mechanics and his educational activities.

In 2001, Leno auctioned off a Harley-Davidson motorcycle signed by his celebrity guests in an effort to help victims of the September 11 attacks. The bike sold for about $360,000. In 2005, he repeated the gesture twice: early in the year to aid victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake — the bike sold for $810,000; and later to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. That bike sold for $1,505,100.

Leno's custom "Tank Car", a 21-foot-long aluminum-bodied roadster powered by a V12 engine from an M-47 Patton tank, was featured in the 2005 racing game Gran Turismo 4.

Leno's column in the American automotive magazine Popular Mechanics showcases his extensive car collection. Additionally, Leno uses his column as a platform to give advice about various automotive topics, including restoration and unique models, such as his jet powered motorcycle.

Jay Leno's passion for classic automobiles led him to an affiliation with the Automobile Restoration Department at McPherson College. Today Leno serves on the National Advisory Board for the college's automotive restoration program and helps fund the Fred Duesenberg Memorial Scholarship.

"Leno even has a Hot Wheels hand painted with water colors" - Felipe Sanchez

* On June 14, 2006, in an episode of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno said he defined his politics as fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

* Leno worked at McDonald's on Main Street in Andover, Massachusetts in the early '70s

* Since 1980, Leno has been married to Mavis Leno, who is known for her work with Afghan women under the Taliban. They have no children, by mutual agreement.

* In late October 2005, Leno told The New York Daily News for an October 31 article that he and rival David Letterman have not spoken to each other in 13 years.

* On February 19, 2006, Leno drove the pace car to start the 2006 Daytona 500, and the 2006 NASCAR season.

* Resides in Beverly Hills, California.

* He suffers from dyslexia.

* In a June 1994 episode, Leno was delivering a monologue that included something about legendary The Price Is Right host Bob Barker. However, Barker didn't buy into that, and made a cameo appearance to warn Leno "No more Bob Barker jokes." Leno agreed to that.

* Leno voices Cartman's Kitty on the TV show South Park.

* At one point in his life, Leno worked 300 clubs a year.

* Leno has noted that one of his major pet peeves is when people dress up their pets. He usually mentions this during the Headlines segment, when he shows a picture submitted of a pet having been dressed up.

* Leno always recognized and appreciated the popular comedians of yesteryears on his show. On the death of Bob Hope in 2003 and Mike Douglas in 2006, he recognized their valuable contributions to the entertainment industry and also talked about their pleasing personalities during his Tonight Show segments on TV.

* Leno has on several occasions made fun of his large chin. Every year on a hot summer day, he broadcasts a sketch where he climbs to the top of the Burbank NBC Studios to use his chin to eclipse the sun, saving the people below from that day's sweltering heat wave.

* On August 6, 2006, Leno appeared as a guest host of Ebert & Roeper in the place of Roger Ebert who was having medical problems at the time.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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