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Brian Williams Wanted to Replace Jay Leno as Host of THE TONIGHT SHOW

In addition to embellishing stories about being in helicopters that got show down with missile fire, one of Brian Williams' great loves has always seemed to be appearing on the late-night circuit. Whether it was hosting Saturday Night Live in 2007, chatting with David Letterman or slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots, Williams was a constant presence on TV shows beyond NBC News.

It turns out Williams loved those appearances so much, he actually lobbied NBC to consider him as the replacement for Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show. From a New York Times report on Tuesday:

Mr. Williams, who succeeded Mr. Brokaw in 2004, transcended the news division, and had ambitions beyond the anchor chair. About five years ago, as NBC was contemplating who would eventually replace Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show,” he told top NBC executives that he was interested in becoming a late-night host, possibly succeeding Mr. Leno. They called the idea ridiculous, telling him that he was a journalist, not a comedian, and to stick to the news department, according to two industry executives with knowledge of the discussions.

All the joking about Williams swapping jobs with Jon Stewart aside, the idea of one of the most-trusted (at the time) news anchors moving to host a late-night program is crazy. Did the trappings of having to report real news weigh on Williams?

Of course, the Tonight Show gig went to Fallon, who I'm pretty sure has no ambition to host NBC Nightly News.
Brian Williams Wanted to Replace Jay Leno as Host of THE TONIGHT SHOW Reviewed by Bill Kuchman on 2/11/2015 Rating: 5

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