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After 22 years, Tonight Show host Jay Leno signs off

Published on Feb 7, 2014 5:12 AM

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Talk show host Jay Leno bids farewell to his remarkable 22-year run at the top of the late-night US television heap on Thursday when he signs off from NBC's "The Tonight Show" for the last time.

Country music titan Garth Brooks and comedian Billy Crystal - Leno's first guest back in May 1992 - have been lined up as special guests on what the network is billing "Jay's historic farewell episode." The silver-haired, square-jawed comedian and classic-car enthusiast is a national institution, famous for skewering hapless politicians in his opening monologue and welcoming celebrity guests for breezy interviews.

But this week has been all about sentimentality, with the indefatigable Betty White, 92, appearing Monday, country star Lyle Lovett playing a sad ballad Tuesday, and actress Sandra Bullock shedding tears Wednesday.

In a generational changing of the guard, baby-boomer Leno, 63, is giving way to Jimmy Fallon, 39, a Generation X'er who previously hosted the "Late Night" show that follows "The Tonight Show." What's more, from February 17, the show will be telecast from New York, where it was located before it moved to Los Angeles in 1972 when the legendary Johnny Carson helmed the program.

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