A broadcast executive with NBC decided that the television day should start with “Today” and end with “Tonight” and what a visionary he was.
He’s gone, but both shows remain as powerful elements of the media landscape. His name was Pat Weaver — Sigourney Weaver’s father — and back in 1954 he hired comedian/musician/genius/Phoenix Union High School graduate Steve Allen to host a show that most people watched in bed.
Then came the provocative Jack Paar, I kid you not, followed by the legendary 30-year reign of true late-night royalty, Johnny Carson. Some think he’s still the host.
But Thursday night another long era ended with Jay Leno’s last “Tonight” show. He stayed 22 years in that slot and despite that awkward premature farewell in 2010, he was a good guy to get us through the night.
Leno was the consummate stand-up comic, both on camera and in clubs, a really nice guy not given to boat-rocking. But he was old, TV old, at 63. Leno was doing Dangerfield, Jimmy Fallon is doing Prince. Thanks Jay, drive carefully and Jimmy, be good to us. Remember, every day the last thing most of us share is “Tonight.”