Competition Between Leno and Letterman Fierce

Competition Between Leno and Letterman Fierce

Jay Leno opened up about his return to The Tonight Show. He told INSIDE EDITION he's excited and it's great to be back.

INSIDE EDITION spoke exclusively with Leno the night before his big comeback, he signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans, before doing stand-up at a comedy club in Hermosa Beach, California.  

Despite his relaxed appearance, the comedian is gearing up for war with late night rival David Letterman.  

"This is a real late night smackdown. Jay and Dave are coming out swinging tonight with real high-profile guests, and they both want to be the ones who can declare victory when those ratings come out the next morning," J. Max Robins of the Paley Center for Media tells INSIDE EDITION.


NBC is pulling out all the stops to put The Tonight Show back on top after it slipped to second place in the ratings while Conan O'Brien was the show's host.

The network aired a commercial for The Tonight Show many times during the Olympics. And Leno lined up big-name guests for his first week back. His first night's guest will include Olympic golden girl Lindsey Vonn and Jamie Foxx.

Leno told INSIDE EDITION he's especially excited for his second night back, and his highly-anticipated interview with Sarah Palin.

Letterman's countering the Palin interview with another Republican powerhouse, Mitt Romney.

The Late Show lineup also includes Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, and, surprisingly, two NBC heavyweights: Jerry Seinfeld and Tom Brokaw.

The competition is so fierce that The Wall Street Journal reports that Letterman even canceled vacation days over the next two weeks so he can be at his studio to film new episodes.    

"Letterman is competitive, he always wanted The Tonight Show himself, and now he's dominating, he wants to keep that dominance, and so he's not going to take a holiday just as Jay's coming back, he wants to fight!" explains Robins.

With so much on the line, it would seem that Leno would regret appearing in the hysterical Super Bowl commercial promoting Letterman's Late Show.

But believe it or not Leno isn't ruling out another get-together with his late night rival, telling INSIDE EDITION, "We might have to have another party, we'll see."