Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Jay Leno makes return to Tonight Show on US television


Jay Leno returns to Tonight show

Comedian Jay Leno has made his return to The Tonight Show in the US, nine months after leaving the programme.

In a pre-taped Wizard of Oz spoof, Leno chanted "there's no place like home".

In his opening monologue, he told an enthusiastic live audience it was "good to be home," joking, "I'm Jay Leno, your host - at least for a while."

He replaces host Conan O'Brien who quit with a $33m (£20m) pay-off after eight months, over plans by broadcaster NBC to move the show to a later time slot.

It brought to an end an acrimonious period for NBC.

Leno, 59, who had presented the show since taking over from host Johnny Carson in 1992, left for The Jay Leno Show which started in September at the earlier time of 10pm.

The Tonight Show, under O'Brien, continued in its regular slot at 11.35pm.

But ratings for both shows slumped and NBC took the decision to move Leno's show to his original slot and move O'Brien to after midnight for the first time in the show's history.

O'Brien deal

In an open letter, O'Brien said: "Delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy programme will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting."

Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno
Leno handed over the Tonight Show reins to O'Brien last summer

In January, NBC reached a $45m (£28m) deal with O'Brien, paving the way for his predecessor to return.

O'Brien, 46, was paid $33m (£20m) with the remainder going to his staff. The deal allows him to return to broadcasting in eight months.

Leno's Tonight Show return featured guests including Jamie Foxx and US Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn.

Leno joked: "When it comes to going downhill, nobody is faster. OK, except NBC."

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