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As Leno Moves to 10 p.m., New Chapter in Late-night Begins

As NBC's Jay Leno prepares to pass "Tonight Show" hosting duties to Conan O'Brien and launch a new talk show, a newspaper television critic mulls the future landscape of late night television.

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    Finally tonight, a big shift in late-night television.

    Jeffrey Brown is back with that.


    It's the end of an era this evening, as Jay Leno sits for the last time behind the famous "Tonight Show" desk. Leno took over for Johnny Carson 17 years ago, and the late-night comedy staple has been a ratings hit for NBC almost that entire time.

    The Leno-style monologue was on display on the night President Obama was a guest.

    JAY LENO, Host, "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno": A lot of people were surprised that the president came to NBC. You would think, by this time, he would be tired of big companies on the brink of disaster with a lot of overpaid executives.


    But, no, no, he's here.


    I tell you, you can't believe the security here today. Well, you — you saw it coming in. I mean, I went through two metal detectors, a full body search, a scan, and then a pat-down. And that was just for Garth Brooks, OK?


    I didn't even meet — I hadn't even met…


    NBC has carefully choreographed the succession, passing the baton to the man whose show aired right after Leno each night, Conan O'Brien, known for a quirkier brand of humor, something he acknowledged during the final taping of his talk show in February.

    CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": It's an incredible, amazing honor to do this program for you people.

    And I want to say something about — we're going on to this next gig. And, sometimes, I read that it's time for Conan to grow up because he's going to 11:30. And, I assure you, that's just not going to happen.


    I can't.


    This is — is who I am, for better or worse.

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