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Jay Leno begins his final two weeks as host of "The Tonight Show" this week. After 22 years, he's preparing to hand the show off to "SNL" alum and "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon.
The late night landscape is set for a seismic shift when Jay Leno steps aside and Jimmy Fallon claims the "Tonight Show" anchor chair.
"Makes perfect sense to me," Leno told "60 Minutes" of the change.
Fallon exits his "Late Night" slot, which he has occupied since 2009, and moves up the schedule. "I'm really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow," Fallon said when the announcement of the change was made last year.
According to Fallon, his stint on "Late Night" has been the perfect proving ground. "This show has completely changed from when I first started," Fallon said of "Late Night," adding, "I feel like we've blossomed into what will become the new 'Tonight' show."
Fallon's hope for filling Leno's shoes? "I hope I make you proud," he told Leno during a recent "Today" interview conducted by Matt Lauer. Leno's final "Tonight Show" aired Feb. 6, with the host feted by regularly appearing guests including Billy Crystal, Oprah Winfrey, Sherryl Crow, Jim Parsons, Garth Brooks, Carol Burnett and Kim Kardashian.
"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" begins Feb. 17.
Here's what we know so far of what we can expect when Fallon moves up:
Familiar Faces Dropping By
NBC has confirmed that actor Will Smith will be Fallon's first guest when the "Tonight Show" returns on Monday. U2 will be the first musical act to appear on the revamped show.
Fallon's guests for the remainder of his first week behind the "Tonight Show" desk are as follows:
Tuesday, Feb. 18: Guests Jerry Seinfeld, Kristen Wiig and musical guest Lady Gaga.
Wednesday, Feb. 19: Guest Bradley Cooper and musical guest Tim McGraw.
Thursday, Feb. 20: Guests First Lady Michelle Obama, Will Ferrell and musical guest Arcade Fire.
Friday, Feb. 21: Guest Justin Timberlake.
"The Tonight Show" has been based in Burbank since 1972 when Johnny Carson moved the late night staple west from New York, where it was first conceived in 1954.
The show will return to its original home under Fallon where it will be taped at 30 Rock and executive-produced by Emmy-winning “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels.
Have Show, Will Travel
Though Fallon is taking the "Tonight Show" back to its New York roots, he has assured that he and his crew will make the trek west a couple of times a year for special events.
A New/Old Title
Viewers may notice that under Fallon, the show's full title is "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," not "With," as was used while Leno held the reins. “‘Starring,’ it’s glamorous. It’s Hollywood. It’s kind of fun,” Fallon told reporters at the TCA press tour. “It’s an homage, a little tip of the cap a little bit to the origins of the show.”
On With the Skits
What's made Fallon a must watch during his tenure at "Late Night" were the comedy sketches - often of a musical nature - featuring some of the biggest names in entertainment and politics. Slow jamming the news with President Obama, Evolution of mom dancing with Michelle Obama, egg cracking with Tom Cruise, end zone dancing or history of rap with Timberlake, making sandwiches with Will Ferrell, "Ew" with Channing Tatum, and let's not forget Fallon as Neil Young singing "Whip My Hair" with Springsteen.
"I think he's probably the closest to Johnny [Carson] of anybody else in late night," Leno said of Fallon. "When I watch him do, you know, a duet with Justin Timberlake or something of that nature I go, 'Well, I can't do that. I mean, I write jokes.'"
"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" debuts Feb. 17 on NBC.