This was Television on May 29

2009: Leno exits Tonight… temporarily

After 17 years at the helm of late night’s most famous franchise, Jay Leno stepped down from The Tonight Show as part of an agreement struck by NBC five years earlier. As part of a plan to avoid the sort of costly successorship struggle that greeted Johnny Carson’s retirement in 1992, NBC had arranged for Leno to yield Tonight to Conan O’Brien in 2009. However, O’Brien’s Tonight struggled in the ratings, as did the other talk show incarnations NBC used to keep Leno in its lineup. In 2010, after a string of bitter public disputes, the Peacock restored Leno to the Tonight throne, while O’Brien decamped for a competing talk show on TBS. -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Anthony Azizi, character actor (40); Danny Elfman, composer (60); Anthony Geary, paramour (66); Bob Hope, comedian (d. 2003); Stacy Keach, Sr., character actor (d. 2003); Ted Levine, police captain (56); Adrian Paul, Highlander (54); Lisa Whlechel, boarding schooler (50).

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