Jay Leno taped his final Tonight show episode on Friday. The talk show host is moving to an earlier slot on the network to host a chat show at 10 pm. Watch highlights from the episode if you missed it.
The king of late-night television stepped down from his throne last night with tears in his eyes.
Jay Leno, who took over "The Tonight Show" in 1992 from Johnny Carson, passed the torch to Conan O'Brien after 3,800 performances.
Thanking those who helped make "this show the No. 1 show," the 59-year-old fixture in America's homes for 17 years managed to smile even as his eyes welled.
He'll stay with NBC, hosting a new, five-times-a-week primetime show in an earlier 10 p.m. slot in the fall.
Leno's finale opened with a standing ovation from the audience and a monologue targeting politicians and other favorites.
"Seventeen years," he began. "I want to thank all the people who made it possible. Michael Jackson, Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton. We could not have done this show without them."
The audience was still laughing when he recalled, "When I started my hair was black, and the President was white."
He followed with a favorite target over the years: "I'm almost embarrassed to mention this. I'm cleaning out my office today, I find O.J.'s knife. I had it the whole time."
About the future, he said, "People ask me, 'Oh, what are you going to do after the last show? Are you gonna go on vacation?' This kind of thing. ... I'm going to a secluded spot where no one can find me: NBC prime time."
But at the end, Leno turned serious as the camera panned to his wife in the audience, saying, "One of the things I'm proud of, I'm leaving this dance with the same girl I came in with." [NYDN]
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