Sunday, February 09, 2014

Jay Leno presents The Beatles?

What is the connection with Jay Leno and The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show?  Well, tonight's really big show, celebrating that appearance from 50 years ago, could not happen without Jay and NBC!

What does Leno have to do with this?
Jay Leno "retired" from The Tonight Show this past Thursday, after an interesting 22 year run on NBC.

The day I got to be Leno's personal paparazzi! 
As a fan of late night talk shows, and a member of the NBC family, I have closely followed the late night saga.  I grew up watching Johnny Carson.  I loved him!  He was known as the King of Late Night, and I believe that he will  forever own that crown.

I waved goodbye on my final show, which has been compared to Johnny's farewell.
On May 22, 1992, I missed the last Tonight Show with Johnny Carson as host, and I was busy moving furniture, televisions, etc., instead of sitting on furniture and watching television.  I was born to become a talk show host, myself, and I missed Johnny's final night.  (Don't worry, my friend recorded it on a VHS for me).

(right) The TV that I watched Carson on now with my Carson DVD's.
(left) Photo I took of Carson on this TV, circa 1983.
In 1990, a year before he announced his "surprise" retirement, I wrote in this column;
"Carson should give his show to Leno and go play some golf"
I do now regret how rough that sounded, but my point was, I knew that Carson was ready to go and that Leno would get the show.

In 1992, NBC then gave The Tonight Show to Jay Leno, and then in 1993 later, NBC offered to dump Jay, and give it to David Letterman, but not until 1994.

Dave turned that offer down and fled to CBS instead.  Jay then made the joke that NBC stood for, Never Believe your Contract!   Over most of the 22 years that Jay was host, he held the top spot.

Everyone remembers how NBC gave The Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien, and moved Jay Leno to 10 pm, 9 central.  And how much that was a disaster, that NBC eventually reverse it's course and Leno was back hosting Tonight.  But did you know that NBC did a similar move to the first host of The Tonight Show;
In 1956, NBC offered Allen a new, prime-time, Sunday night variety hour, The Steve Allen Show, aimed at dethroning CBS's top-rated The Ed Sullivan Show.
NBC was NOT successful "dethroning" Ed Sullivan, in fact, he went on doing his show until 1971.  In that time, he had many guests, like Elvis, The Supremes, The Muppets and a little group known as The Beatles.

Ed Sullivan and some new long-haired band!
When Jay Leno got The Tonight Show, David Letterman accepted an offer to go over to CBS.  CBS, then bought the Ed Sullivan Theater for for $4.5 million and converted it to Dave's new home.

On the first show, you can see Ed Sullivan introduce Dave!  According to Wiki;
Letterman also joked that his crew opened an old closet in the theater which contained a 45-year old woman screaming, "Ringo!"
According to a press release by CBS, tonight;

Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr & Pete Best
In a rare joint interview, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr share with David Letterman their memories of The Beatles’ historic “Ed Sullivan Show” appearances, the excitement of their 1964 U.S. debut and their impressions of the Ed Sullivan Theater, on THE BEATLES: THE NIGHT THAT CHANGED AMERICA – A GRAMMY® SALUTE, Sunday, Feb. 9 (8:00-10:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Sheldon Cooper / John Lennon (Credit)
Without Jay, Dave would have likely stayed at NBC, and perhaps Dr. Sheldon Cooper would have been the host for tonight's special on CBS!

David Letterman Interviews Paul and Ringo...

The Ed Sullivan changed it's marquee to look like it did 50 years ago;

Letterman's Late Show marquee looks back 50 years!
A year before The Beatles made their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, one man is credited as the first U.S. disc jockey to play The Beatles on the radio.  That man is Dick Biondi, back while he was on Chicago's WLS 890 AM in February 1963.  He played the song "Please Please Me"

Here is that actual moment, followed by a classic jingle;

You can listen to the entire broadcast, from February 1963!

It is as likely for Jay Leno to return to NBC, as it would be for him to be accompanied by The Beatles;

Tony Lossano, Broadcast Producer (TV & Radio, Chicago), amateur bicyclist, a fantastic dog walker, and has never been married to Alyssa Milano.

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