Leno doesn't stray from routine

October 15, 2002|By Ed Bark | Ed Bark,KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

DALLAS - Jay Leno, the king of the late-night ratings and an inveterate creature of habit, is in no big rush to expand his horizons.

His basic routine is threefold and on hold.

No. 1: Play the role of host on NBC's The Tonight Show with as little vacation time as possible.

No. 2: Tinker with a vast collection of motorcycles and cars while wearing his trademark off-camera garb of blue denim shirt and jeans.

No. 3: Perform upward of 120 off-camera standup gigs every year.

Really, who could ask for anything more? Not Leno, who turned down a request to host last month's Emmy telecast and says he'd rather not trouble himself with any major awards show.

"I've got a job. I mean, I'm on every night," he said during a brief backstage interview before performing at a benefit for the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

"To do the Emmys, you need to sort of take the week off before and work on it. With our kind of show, you really don't have that option. You'd have to do The Tonight Show and the Emmys."

Besides, he said, "I've hosted the Emmys."

Well, sort of.

He joined Candice Bergen and Jane Pauley as one of three co-hosts for the 1990 Emmy Awards ceremony. But he's never flown solo.

Leno also seems to be forgetting that this year's Emmy host, Conan O'Brien, and two previous Oscar emcees, Johnny Carson and David Letterman, were in the same late-night business as he is.

So if the Oscar people ever called, he'd be thrilled, right?

"No, I've got a job," Leno said. "Hosting an awards show is one of those jobs where you're either too funny for the room or not funny enough for the room. It's a great honor and everything, but I'm doin' fine."

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