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After 22 years, Leno bids farewell to ‘Tonight’

  • This Nov. 5, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Jimmy Fallon starts his NBC "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, 2014, from New York. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

    This Nov. 5, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Jimmy Fallon starts his NBC "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, 2014, from New York. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

  • This Oct. 12, 2012 photo released by NBC shows President Barack Obama  during an interview with host Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

    This Oct. 12, 2012 photo released by NBC shows President Barack Obama during an interview with host Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

  • This Oct. 12, 2012 photo released by NBC shows President Barack Obama  during an interview with host Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

    This Oct. 12, 2012 photo released by NBC shows President Barack Obama during an interview with host Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

  • FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

    FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

  • FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

    FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

  • This Nov. 5, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Jimmy Fallon starts his NBC "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, 2014, from New York. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

    This Nov. 5, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Jimmy Fallon starts his NBC "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, 2014, from New York. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

  • This Nov. 5, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Jimmy Fallon starts his NBC "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, 2014, from New York. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)
  • This Oct. 12, 2012 photo released by NBC shows President Barack Obama  during an interview with host Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)
  • This Oct. 12, 2012 photo released by NBC shows President Barack Obama  during an interview with host Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)
  • FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)
  • FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)
  • This Nov. 5, 2012 photo released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," on the set in Burbank, Calif. After 22 years, Leno will host his last show on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. Jimmy Fallon starts his NBC "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, 2014, from New York. (AP Photo/NBC, Paul Drinkwater)

Jay Leno said farewell to The Tonight Show once before, but that turned out to be just a rehearsal.

Last night Leno stepped down for the second and presumably last time, making way for successor Jimmy Fallon in New York City. When Leno gave up the venerable show to short-lived host Conan O’Brien in 2009, he did a prime-time NBC comedy series before reclaiming Tonight in 2010.

This time, Leno’s out the door. “When we left in ’09 we were going to the 10 o’clock show, so there wasn’t the same sort of finality to it,” said Tonight executive producer Debbie Vickers as the program counted down toward its last taping.

“It’s going to be difficult to not come in and do a show every day for our audience who has been so great to Jay. . . . And also hard for this group of people (the staff) who have all been together for 22 years,” said Vickers, who worked on Johnny Carson’s Tonight before taking the top job with Leno.

Leno, 63, said he plans to continue playing comedy clubs, indulging his passion for cars and doing such TV work as comes his way – other than hosting on late-night.

“It’s been a wonderful job. This is the right time to leave,” he said last week, and make way for the next generation.

Fallon, 39, starts his Tonight Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage the next two weeks.

Billy Crystal helped close out Leno’s run, the second-longest for a Tonight host next to Carson’s 30 years. The actor-comedian was Leno’s first guest in 1992, and Leno told him he wanted him to be his final one. Garth Brooks appeared as well, along with surprises.

Leno’s late-night competitors didn’t step aside for his final bow.

ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, who was harshly critical of Leno when O’Brien lost Tonight, had the A-list cast of the new film The Monuments Men, including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Bill Murray.

On CBS, David Letterman’s Late Show continued its musical tributes to the Sunday’s 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ appearance on CBS’s The Ed Sullivan Show.

Sean Lennon, son of the late John Lennon, will perform a Beatles tune with The Flaming Lips.

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