Jay Leno Tonight Show Goodbye Gets Mor..
Jay Leno S Tonight Show Exit A Tearful..
That ‘Old Guy’? He’s Retired Now, Right?
By SP_COP on February 07, 2014 | From www.nytimes.com
Johnny Carson’s departure from the “Tonight” show in 1992 was an abdication. Jay Leno’s last show, on Thursday, was closer to a retirement party — a bittersweet send-off for a loyal executive pushed out after 22 years.

Mr. Leno let his feelings flow only at the very end, and this time, he didn’t make any of the kinds of jokes about NBC that dotted his final shows at the network. “I didn’t know anybody over there,” he said, explaining why he never went to Fox or ABC. Choking up, he added, “These are the only people I’ve ever known.”

Ratings in the last week soared, but it wasn’t that audiences were anticipating a train wreck or a cultural milestone. Many viewers weren’t feeling loss so much as pinpricks of projected anxiety: Mr. Leno’s emotional last bow was poignant not because he is a legendary figure who can never be replaced, but because he is the nice guy who worked really hard, did a great job and will barely be missed come Monday morning.

Newer viewers were like the younger employees down the hall who barely know the retiree, but are still drawn to the drama of a forced exit — and the free champagne and cake. For his older, longtime fans — his audience’s median age is 57.8 — there was a there-but-for-the-grace-of God frisson: Mr. Leno, 63, is such a familiar fixture of network television that his last hurrah became a dreaded rite of passage, an acting out of people’s deepest fears about their own obsolescence. (That could be the reason David Letterman, 66, of CBS put aside his longstanding grudge against Mr. Leno and congratulated his rival on “a wonderful run.”)

It happens to almost everyone. Thursday night, it was Mr. Leno’s turn. He tapped Billy Crystal, his very first guest in 1992, to be his last, and asked his favorite singer, the country star Garth Brooks, to perform. And he smiled through skits and cameos by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Carol Burnett and Kim Kardashian about his departure. (President Obama paid his respects in a taped message.)

Mr. Crystal led what he called the Shut Your Von Trapp Family Singers in a parody of the “Sound of Music” song “So Long, Farewell,” reworded in his honor....
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