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Will Jay Leno return to TV? His Hall of Fame speech suggests otherwise

Jay Leno got into the Television Academy Hall of Fame on Tuesday, and when that sort of thing happens, they just don't send you a citation thanking you for "your many years of great service." Oh no: You have to actually go to a dinner and give a speech. You have to work for the thing. Leno gave his speech, and it was gracious and in parts interesting, even a bit reflective. There's a tempus fugit quality to this that indicates Jay really, truly has moved on, not just from "Tonight," but from television altogether. Check this out and wonder -- as I did -- whether this is Jay essentially saying he is done with TV forever. 

Of additional interest, he directs some comments to Rupert Murdoch in the audience; Fox, of course, has been rumored as Jay's next stop. But that is probably not going to happen, nor is CNN, nor (I suspect) is anyplace else.  (Why, you ask, is Murdoch even attending a rubber chicken dinner? Does he perhaps have his eye on Jay...?) 

Naturally, talk show hosts who have spent their lives in front of the camera always reserve the right to change their minds. The tab shows gathered outside this speech the other night and pryed some additional news out of Jay -- that he's certainly going on "Late Show with David  Letterman." I do in fact expect that to happen. But a regular TV gig again? Doubtful ... or maybe Jay just has to ask himself the chilling rhetorical question, "Do you really want to become Billy Crystal's character in "Mr. Saturday Night?' "  

 

Jay Leno announces Arsenio Hall's second season

Jay Leno appears during the final taping of

(Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Jay Leno is back in late night TV! For just a couple of minutes...those specifically tonight, on "Arsenio." In a fun, unusual, relaxed (Jay owns a pair of jeans? Who knew...) appearance, he announces the second season pickup of Arsenio Hall's late night show - yes, that show that certain major news organizations don't even know exists...

  

On Jay Leno's final 'Tonight Show,' the host saves his best for last

Billy Crystal talks to host Jay Leno during

(Credit: AP / Matt Sayles)

Oh sure, Jay Leno's final "Tonight Show" was good -- funny, brisk, lively. Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks were excellent as guests, for they clearly wanted to be there and made the best of an a opportunity that yielded little in terms of professional accomplishment but everything in terms of a personal one, which is rare in show business.

But Leno saved his best for last -- specifically the last eight minutes of this last show when he choked up, pulled the full frame of his body up to his chin in a vain effort to control his emotions -- fleetingly evoking a human-sized Cabbage Patch doll -- and then let the tears fall.

It was a moment, or several of them, that we've never seen of Leno, as though a curtain came up to reveal the real man. Gratifyingly, it was the real man we have always suspected Leno to be.

He thanked his viewers -- didn't call them "fans" -- then he moved on to his family. His mother died early in his run, then his father, and a year after that, his brother, Patrick. "I was pretty much without family," he said, and then -- referring to 200-or-so people who have helped him run this machine called "The Tonight Show" for the past 22 years said, "and the folks here became my family."

For good measure, he added proudly that "Tonight Show" was always a "union shop . . ." (That may well have been a veiled rebuke to the Writer's Guild, which slammed him years ago for writing his monologues during one of the writers' strike, or for something like that. But so what? It was his last show. Jay got in the last word.)

What was so terrific about these last few seconds was the simple fact that Leno -- finally stripped down bare to the emotional studs so to speak, with nothing separating the real person from the millions who have supported him for decades -- did not revert to form and did not hide. He spoke from a heart we've only rarely seen glimpses of over these years, even wrung raw emotion from a heart we knew was there, but hardly ever saw.

And what we saw, in the end, was something -- someone -- both generous and fundamentally decent. The real Jay Leno, ladies and gentlemen.

It was the perfect way to end because it confirmed what everyone -- certainly his supporters if not his detractors -- have suspected all along. Here it is again.

Jay Leno's last day is also Michael J. Fox's last day: Meaning, what exactly?

Jimmy Fallon appears on "The Tonight Show with

(Credit: Getty Images)

It is strange and mysterious and odd and weird and...altogether fitting that Jay Leno's last day at "The Tonight Show" is also Michael J. Fox's last day at NBC (if you're just catching up, "The Michael J. Fox Show" has been canceled and remaining episodes will be burned off elsewhere...)

And this all means "what?"

With your forbearance, let me take a stab at that question: What it means...

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Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno exchange goodbyes, addresses

1. Jimmy Fallon will take over "Tonight" from

(Credit: Getty Images)

Jay Leno is rolling out of "The Tonight Show" in three days, and Jimmy Fallon is rolling in - starting Feb. 17 - and so last night came the obligatory entrance interview: Jimmy's. It was all nice and gracious and thank yous were exchanged. (No addresses - they know where to find each other.) If you happened to have missed...

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Bill Maher and Seth MacFarlane sing a farewell to Jay Leno

Seth MacFarlane, who hosted, the Oscars this year,

(Credit: Getty Images)

On last night's "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" -- which I suppose could be called the penultimate-ultimate-ultimate-ultimate-ultimate edition -- Seth MacFarlane and Bill Maher sang a bowdlerized version of "Thanks for the Memories." And it wasn't half bad (with lines like, "we'll bet our socks, you'll end up on Fox," how could it not be?)

 In any event, watch! (And you know the drill, if...

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CNN plans Jay Leno tribute Friday

Jay Leno arrives at the 2013 Vanity Fair

(Credit: Getty Images/Pascal Le Segretain)

Jay Leno is leaving "The Tonight Show" next week, but on Friday, CNN will air this: 

After an incredible run on top, Jay Leno is wrapping up his reign on The Tonight Show. Jay Leno: Mr. Comedy airing Friday, January 31st at 10pm ET on CNN, looks back at how Leno earned his stripes on the comedy club circuit in the 70’s, made his first splash on TV in the 80’s and then, in the 90’s, took...

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Jay Leno does not exactly rule out CNN as his next stop

Jay Leno, left, and Jimmy Fallon at the

(Credit: AP/Jordan Strauss)

Over the past two days, there have been two major television interviews with Jay Leno -- first, Sunday night on "60 Minutes," and again Monday morning on the "Today" show. In both instances, he more or less rules out a return to late night. But what about other times of the day? That subject --- if not exactly that question -- came up in his exit interview with the Hollywood Reporter, posted Monday morning.

It's a good and far-ranging interview, and once again, Jay expresses a sense that the transition is fine with him, and adds a little supporting evidence by saying that in fact he was supposed to stay until September (that's known) but that NBC wanted him to move aside six months earlier to give Jimmy Fallon a big prelaunch platform with the Olympics -- but that NBC assured him his staff would be paid through September. He indicates that this goodwill gesture was certainly appreciated.

But what about that "what's next" question? He tells THR there have been lots of offers but when he's asked about his relationship with CNN chief Jeff Zucker, he certainly doesn't pointedly rule out a move to the cable network -- a 10 p.m. show has been rumored, in part because there's a widespread industry expectation that Piers Morgan's contract will not be renewed, and that he'll be moved aside by midyear. Here's Jay (Lacey Rose, THR's smart reporter on the TV beat handles this adroitly):  


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There's been talk about Jeff Zucker expressing interest in you for CNN. A lot of people are interested . . . But you and Zucker have a rich history, including the chapter when he dumped you for Conan. There's no grudge? No, because Jeff believed in "The Tonight Show." When we did "The Tonight Show" [during his tenure atop NBC], if there was a big star in New York and we wanted them tomorrow night, Jeff would say, "Authorize the jet. Find $25,000. We want them." Boom. Those kinds of things don't necessarily happen anymore.

What happens now? It's just different. Jeff comes from a talk show background. He did the "Today" show, so he understands what's necessary for a daily show. You do whatever you have to do to get guests, no matter what it costs. You worry about it later. He was always very helpful that way. The fact that other things didn't work out? OK, I get it.

15 best Super Bowl commercials of all time

Britney Spears in her Pepsi commercial for Super

(Credit: Pepsi via YouTube)

As you may have heard, there's a Super Bowl coming up -- No. 48, or ex-el-vee-triple "i" -- and while there will be football, there will also be commercials: Roughly 60 of them. That's is a big number and potentially represents, as it does every year, the bane of advertisers, notably "clutter." "Clutter" means too many ads, and when there are too many, viewers tend to forget all of them. And that is one reason why Super Bowl commercials tend to be some of the most memorable bits of video you see all year -- thirty second snippets that are designed to make you remember them, long after the game has ended.

With that thought in mind, let's take a tour of the 15 most memorable Super Bowls in history -- beginning with No. 15. The most memorable is No. 1, naturally. The fun thing about these lists is that they are purely subjective: Each of us will come up with a different list, of course. This is mine... And by the way, "best" reflects only that which is "most memorable." Obviously, some of these are aesthetic  monstrosities -- ghastly bits of  video that curdle the mind and corrupt the senses. But, darn-it, you can't forget 'em.

(App readers, watch the videos here: http://bit.ly/1aY6Axw. Unfortunately, this content is not available on mobile phones.)


MORE SUPER BOWL: Stars live-tweet the game | Photos: Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers | Photos: Celebrity fans | 13 biggest halftime shows ever | 15 most memorable Super Bowl ads of all time


15.) Britney Spears 2001: Hey, this could even go at number one; it's unforgettable, even if we want to forget...

14.) Doritos: Ann Richards and Mario Cuomo get crunchy. Once seen, never ever forgotten...

13.) Danica Patrick: There have been so many awful Go Daddy Danica Patrick ads that one hardly knows where to begin -- they all run together in a big unseemly mess in the brain. But this one, from 1999, is a good start:

12.) Betty White and Abe Vigoda, in 2010: Has there ever been a better Super Bowl commercial?

11.) Dave! Jay! Oprah! This one is great -- but I totally forget what the product being sold is. Who cares! It's the ad that counts:

10.) Xerox and the Monks... a most peculiar ad, from 1976, but once seen never forgotten...

9.) Bud Light: From Super Bowl XLII -- so many Bud Light commercials? Where to begin? What to choose? This one...

8.) Budweiser and its foals... So many Bud foals over the years -- but this one from last year sticks; maybe because it's from last year:

7.) Bridgestone's Killer Whale: Bridgestone's killer whale is one of my all-time favorites, and damned if I'm about to forget it...

6.) Michael Jordan, Larry Bird play "HORSE" for a Big Mac: Again, as memorable as they get, and as absurd as they get, too? Multimillionaires playing for a Big Mac? Of course, in the alternate-logic universe of the Super Ad, makes perfect...

5.) Monster.com created some of the most memorable of them all, including this one from 2009:

4.) John Madden and Miller Lite -- 1980: The Super Bowl, as a collective memory predicated largely on commercials as opposed to football, would be unimaginable without this one...

3.) Noxema creams Joe Namath, or Farrah Fawcett does: In 1973 there was an ad so ineffably awful that it would stay with us all forever... This one:

2.) Mean Joe Greene and Coca-Cola: Debates have raged over this ad -- a great one or an awful one? I've long ago settled on the "great" side of the equation here. This ad is largely perfect, as an emblem of everything Coke is or ever wanted to be, and coming as it did when the Steel Curtain really was made of steel, its timeliness was even better. Most of all, it's unforgettable:

1.) Apple: You knew this would be number one, didn't you? Chiat/Day's classic, which launched a brand and till this very day still resonates. Weirdly, otherworldly wonderful...

Which Super Bowl commercial do you think is the most memorable? Tell us in the comments below.

Leno talks about Fallon on '60 Minutes;' Adam Sandler jokes about Leno joining Fox

Jay Leno talked about Jimmy Fallon and "The

(Credit: AP)

Jay Leno is in the news, you may have heard -- specifically "60 Minutes" on Sunday, where he talks about The Transition -- Jimmy Fallon to "The Tonight Show."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday's "Tonight," Adam Sandler joked about Jay  joining Fox when he wraps his quarter-century run at "Tonight" in a couple of weeks. (In fact, Jay's first appearance on "Tonight" was way back in 1977.) Jay was not particularly amused.

 Of course, we have clips: 

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