(Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)
Jay Leno has broken the silence on his late night show going off the air next month in a recent interview with "60 Minutes."
Many were shocked when it was announced that "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" would be ending after 22 years on NBC, and the show's host has now admitted it was not his choice.
"It's not my decision," Leno revealed. "I think I probably would have stayed if we didn't have a qualified young guy ready to jump in."
The 63-year-old host was of course referring to NBC's decision to allow the more youthful Jimmy Fallon to come on board and host the late-night show - a move that will begin in February. Despite the transition, Leno has said that he is not angry with Fallon at all over the change-up, and instead offered the popular talk show host praise.
"I probably would have stayed a little longer, but we have a very talented, very good, I think he's more like a young Johnny than anybody since," he said during the interview with "60 Minutes," which airs this Sunday.
"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" first hit NBC in 1992, but Leno has been battling stiff competition in recent years, and NBC was reportedly concerned that rival late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel would steal young viewers from the network. The concerns led NBC to make the dramatic switch up, and as a result, the final episode of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" is scheduled for Feb. 6. Jimmy Fallon will take over as the "Tonight Show" host when the program airs at 11:35 p.m. on Feb. 17.
Ahead of Leno's finale, the full lineup of the final week of Leno's show has been released. The lineup reveals that interestingly Leno's successor, Fallon, is scheduled to stop by during the final week of the "Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Monday Feb. 3 for a "passing of the baton" episode. The musical guest of the finale night will be Garth Brooks, and the full lineup for the final week is as follows:
Monday, Feb. 3: Jimmy Fallon, Betty White
Tuesday, Feb. 4: Matthew McConaughey, Charles Barkley, Lyle Lovett
Wednesday, Feb. 5: Sandra Bullock, Blake Shelton
Thursday, Feb. 6: Billy Crystal, Garth Brooks