With rumors swirling about the future of "The Tonight Show," the two men competing for the host job, Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno, made a joint appearance on Monday's episode of "Late Night" to poke fun at the reports.
The two men sang a parody of "Tonight" from the musical "West Side Story," with lyrics updated to reflect the current rumors. In the sketch, which is presented as a seamless transition between the two programs, Leno is depicted as being hounded by reporters at his Burbank studio. He then gives Fallon a call in New York so they can both commiserate about the press attention.
They then launch into deep baritones and sing a dramatic adaptation of "Tonight," mocking the 1961 musical.
NBC has not confirmed anything regarding a "Tonight Show" transition, but many speculate that the network will not extend Leno's contract beyond 2014 and will install Fallon as the next host of the 11:35 institution, with his show remaining in New York City.
Leno has made jokes in his monologue at the expense of NBC leadership over the past few weeks, with the subtext that executives are unwise to remove Leno while he continues to pull in strong ratings. Apparently, it's working for him -- Leno's ratings have been up since he started the jokes.
The fact that Leno agreed to collaborate with Fallon in this sketch appears to be a signal that he, and more importantly NBC, wishes to avoid a messy PR battle when the transition occurs. In 2010, when Conan O'Brien and Leno wrestled over "The Tonight Show," O'Brien and Leno did not speak privately and in fact made digs at each other on their respective shows.
Check out the video above to see Fallon and Leno sing "Tonight," and read the lyrics below.
Only you, every night you throw to me, Jay Leno
In the news, all they do, is say I’m replacing you
They think I can woo
So the network said “Here’s an idea.”
Pack your bags, take a hike, NBC-yaaa!
Who’s gonna host "Tonight"?
Is it gonna be Jimmy or Jay?
Where will they tape "Tonight"?
In New York? Will it stay in L.A.?
My ratings were all right
Twenty years and I’m still in first place
I’ve got Fox on the line
Or maybe I could take over for Dave
Leno & Fallon:
Why do they say we fight?
I like you, you like me, we’re okay.
Who cares who hosts "Tonight"?
People just watch online the next day!