NBC Angles to Keep Leno After Tonight

Execs brainstorm projects for 2009, when Conan takes chair
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2007 6:32 AM CDT
Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," poses against an antique steam engine at his private garage of classic cars in Burbank, Calif., Monday, May 21, 2007. Leno is marking his 15th year...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – As Jay Leno nears his final Tonight Show in 2009, NBC is scrambling to keep the late night king at the network and away from rivals ABC and Fox. Peacock execs have pitched a prime time variety show, miscellaneous work on NBC's cable channels, and a showcase of Jay-on-demand through cable or online, Variety reports.

"We want him to stay at NBC for life," said network entertainment chief Ben Silverman. NBC announced that Conan O'Brien would replace Leno, but could still buy out O'Brien's $40 million contract to keep Leno in Burbank. Leno hasn't revealed his plans, but friends say retiring at 59—seven years younger than Johnny Carson did—is unlikely for the famed workaholic.