Jay Leno might just look a little different to fans when he returns to television screens this fall.
When “The Jay Leno Show” premieres on September 4 at 10 PM on NBC, viewers will get to see a thinner and healthier Leno, who revealed at Wednesday’s NBC Television Critics Association panel in Pasadena, Calif., he has lost some weight.
“I’ve been running four miles every day. Lost 12 pounds just trying to get into shape,” a blue-shirted Jay told reporters.
Leno revealed that he lost the weight through increased exercise.
“I run two miles in the morning, two miles at night and then I work out,” he later added.
But in addition to a slimmer host, the comedian promised his new show will look nothing like his former stomping ground, “The Tonight Show.”
In addition to moving across the NBC lot to a new facility at Studio 11, the new show will be much bigger and feature a racetrack.
“One of my favorite shows – an English show – is ‘Top Gear’ and as a homage to that show, we built a racetrack right next to the studio,” Jay explained of one of several new features for his 10 PM program. “We’re going to do something called the Green Car Challenge. All celebrities talk about being green, but we want to see who’s green and fast and we’re working with a major manufacturer now. They’re building us some really, really high powered electric cars that are as fast as any race cars and we will take the celebrity, we will put them in the car and have them do a lap on the track and see who is the fastest.”
Jay revealed a host of stars have already expressed an interest in hitting the track, including Drew Barrymore and one celebrity who played a race car driver in “Days of Thunder.”
“I’ve told it to a number of stars and, as a matter of fact, even Tom Cruise called and said ‘Can I get in early and practice?’ I said ‘No, nobody gets to practice,’” Jay recounted. “The fun thing about it, there’s a lot of people, [which] people want to see, perhaps athletes and people like this who are not good talkers but would be fun in this sort of environment – to see if Shaquille O’Neal is faster than Cameron Diaz.”
After the panel, Jay added that he’d like to get a “Grey’s Anatomy” racing aficionado on his course.
“Patrick Dempsey is a great race car driver. I’d love to get him,” he noted.
Another new feature that will make “The Jay Leno Show” different from “The Tonight Show” will be the use of various correspondents, including D.L. Hughley, who will cover politics from Washington, D.C. under the title “DL From D.C.”
Other members of “The Jay Leno Show” correspondents team are comedian Mikey Day, “The Hangover’s” Rachael Harris, funnyman Jim Norton and The Dan Band.
He will also introduce the comedic stylings of the network’s main news anchor, Brian Williams, who will regularly contribute to “The Jay Leno Show.”
“I spoke to Brian Williams on ‘NBC Nightly News’… and I said, ‘Would you be willing to do something on a regular basis, perhaps contributing like, stories that weren’t good enough for ‘Nightly News?’’ And he said yes, he would love to do it,” Jay explained. “He’ll be a featured guest.”
Additionally, Jay will bring back some old “Tonight Show” favorites to his new program, including “Headlines,” “Jaywalking,” and the “99-Cent Store” bits.
One thing that won’t feature as heavily will be the guests; Jay admitted he’d like to see just one or two guests per episode.
Fans of the “Tonight Show” will remember that Jay closed out his last show back in May by showing off his legacy – all the children that were born during his 17-year tenure on the show.
And when asked how he plans to top that on the first episode of his new program, the funnyman quipped, “I’m going to be conceiving children on that first show.”
While Jay said no official first guest had been locked down (Conan O’Brien was his last “Tonight Show” guest), he revealed that the new show will start quickly following a theme composed by bandleader Kevin Eubanks.
“We’ll open obviously with a monologue. The show will start right now. There’s none of these long things where we show the hills of LA and a palm tree and the Hollywood sign,” he said. “The show will start within 9-12 seconds. ‘Jay Leno Show.’ Boom! Start with the jokes, get the show moving. We want to keep it fast paced. I think that’s the real key. We don’t want to waste anybody’s time. This is good food at sensible prices. A lot of jokes.”