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Henican: For Leno, keeping cool earns him last laugh

All of a sudden, NBC has nothing to laugh about.

Leno's a flop at 10. Conan's an "astounding failure" at 11:35. Jimmy Kimmel's the rudest guest in the history of late-night TV.

Is it comedy? Is it drama? It's a whole new form of late-night train wreck where all the engineers are over-coddled and overpaid. And NBC is still in fourth place.

But viewers have a whole new reason to stay awake.

The Emmy for Nastiest Slam on a Colleague goes to Kimmel: "Listen Jay," he said, "Conan and I have children, all you have to take care of is cars. I mean, we have lives to lead here, you've got $800 million. For God's sake, leave our shows alone."

The Emmy for Pseudo-Concern goes to Conan: Young people, he allowed, should believe they can "do anything you want in life - unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too."

And the Emmy for Keeping Your Cool and Coming Out on Top? Leno gets that one, for sure.

While Kimmel burns bridges and Conan heads for Fox, Jay is getting his old job back, the one he was pushed from so unceremoniously and so recently.

The others got better zingers off. But Jay's the one who will be smiling in the end.


NEXT STOP: All big bureaucracies have duplication and waste. But as chairman Jay Walder works to streamline the sprawling MTA, he may find that some long-standing redundancies actually make sense. Surely, he can turn the MetroCard a multiagency swipe and combine some of those 92 customer-service numbers. But how much will be saved - and how much useful knowledge will be lost - by lumping all the travel-information operators into a single subway-LIRR-MetroNorth call center? Here's a better goal: Make sure they actually take the trains they're advising about!


ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Homecoming queen, $1,000 Intel semifinalist - and what else? If Jennie Shapira is also the leading scorer on Hewlett High's basketball team, I don't want to know . . . Did Hofstra's final fumble really play no role in convincing Nassau Community College to start offering football scholarships? . . . Time to rewrite the high-speed police-chase protocol? Latest crash was Wednesday on Ocean Avenue in Valley Stream - over pot in a car . . . With Junior Gotti enjoying his first weekend of freedom in five years, are his old Gambino pals making book on the odds he keeps his nose clean? . . . Those day laborers tossed from Huntington Station's Fifth Street woods - where exactly are they sleeping tonight? . . . How soon 'til the Haitian-rescue story turns into an ugly political debate about Haitian refugees? . . . Do you know the name Bryce Larsen? You will. "Idol" judge Randy Jackson was unequivocal with the North Shore High substitute: "You're going to Hollywood!" . . . As the Heckscher Museum's "Arcadia/Suburbia" show touts 80 years worth of LI architecture, some local designers are wondering: Whose current work will seem exciting 80 years from now? Anyone's? . . . When will the new 211 helpline start doing legwork for columnists?


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