With Jay Leno’s run on the “Tonight Show” ending tonight, my thoughts turn to my friend Jon Macks, who has been on Jay’s staff as a monologue joke writer since the very first show 17 years ago.
When Jon and I spoke a few days ago, I asked if he was going to be on Jay’s new primetime NBC show this fall. He said he didn’t know yet. As far as the staff is concerned, their jobs end tonight, and they’ll find out sometime in July if they’re going to be part of the new crew. I’m confident Jon will be back with Jay, because he’s one of the best joke-writers in the business. Meanwhile, he’s very in demand writing awards shows, the PBS July 4th show, and speeches for all sorts of big shots.
As for Leno’s finale, it won’t be anything like Carson’s goodbye because Leno’s really only going on hiatus before changing dayparts. And whether you liked him or not, you have to give him credit for 17 years of success that many people thought couldn’t possibly happen (particularly in the early years when Helen Kushnick was still running his career and show).
Mark Evanier has much more to say about this, and I agree with everything he’s written on the subject.