CNN wants Jay Leno after he leaves The Tonight Show

Jay Leno will finally hand over the keys to The Tonight Show (again) in February when Jimmy Fallon becomes the next host of the long-running late night show. What will Leno do with himself after the show? Last time he tried to retire, he attempted to do a half-hour show on NBC that failed and caused him to return in 2009. Many believed he would just play with his arsenal of old cars and continue to tour as a successful stand-up comedian.

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker has other plans. The former head of NBCUniversal, who was the one who ousted Leno the first time around when he promised to give The Tonight Show to then-Late Night host Conan O’Brien, has approached the star for a possible late-night or primetime show on the 24-hour news network. Zucker has been trying to revamp CNN to appeal to the non-news watcher, most recently creating a documentary film division after the success of its investigative TV-movie Blackfish.

Leno is famous for being a workhorse, writing many of his own jokes for his NBC show every morning. If someone wants to keep him on television after February, he’ll likely do it– so long as they keep letting him tell jokes. NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has said, “Nothing would make me happier than to find ways to keep him involved with this network. That’s really up to him.” If it were truly up to him, the man would host that show until the day he dies. No worries. He has been approached by a whole team of suitors, including American Idol producer Jeff Gaspin. Maybe ABC will line them all up and ask Leno to do a special season of The Bachelor. With a topical opening monologue, of course.

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Billy Procida

Laughspin editor-in-chief Billy Procida is a stand-up comedian in New York City. He hosts The Manwhore Podcast where he talks to women he's hooked up with about sex, dating, and why they didn't work out. Reach him on Twitter.

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