No Leno boycott as celebs line up to welcome Jay back

(Ed Reinke - AP)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sarah Palin, Olympic gold-medal snowboarder Shaun White, Olympic gold-medal skier Lindsey Vonn and Jamie Foxx are among the big names who will not take up Team CoCo's call to boycott Jay Leno when he returns to NBC's "The Tonight Show" starting March 1.

They are, instead, among Jay's first guests when he makes his triumphant return to the late-night franchise from which NBC booted him last year in order to make way for Conan O'Brien -- who held onto the gig for seven months before NBC pushed him out of the 11:35 p.m. time slot, which caused Conan to say "Nuts to You!" and walk.

Palin and White will actually headline Leno's second night back. Palin will be plugging her feud with Seth MacFarlane over his decision to have a cartoon character with Down syndrome say she was the child of a former governor of Alaska on his Fox series "Family Guy." She'll also probably plug her long-running feud with CBS late-night host -- and Leno competitor -- David Letterman. (White, for his part, will look like Carrot Top.)

Foxx and Vonn will be Leno's guests on March 1, his first night back. Foxx will plug his upcoming flick "Malice N Wonderland." Vancouver Games It Girl Vonn will be warming up for her hoped-for guest-hosting gig on the network's "Saturday Night Live."

On Friday, just after Tiger Woods's "I'm So Sorry" speech had wrapped, Vonn turned up at the Olympics site USA House for an interview in which she said she hoped to do "SNL." She said she would contact NBC Sports chief and former "SNL" exec producer Dick Ebersol about that, adding, "I have some ideas." According to Time magazine, Vonn was also heard joking with members of her Vonn-tourage that she'd like to do an "SNL" skit in which she would stand at Tiger's podium and say, "There's something you don't know about me. Tiger, you're like my idol -- and I, too, have a sex problem."

"That would be freaking funny!" Vonn added, blondly.

And, as if that's not enough, Brad Paisley will be Jay's first musical guest.

On March 3, Leno will host the cast of "Jersey Shore," who will plug their feud with Italian American organizations. We're not sure who "E!" late-night diva Chelsea Handler is feuding with, but we're sure she will tell us when she joins Leno that night -- as will Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, who is feuding with Korean gold-medalist Lee Jung-su. (Avril Lavigne, who, to the best of our knowledge, is not feuding with anyone at this moment, will provide musical entertainment.)

Things will calm down a bit on March 4 when Matthew McConaughey and Jason Reitman are scheduled to sit down with Jay. Morgan Freeman and Meredith Vieira are set for March 5. And Leno will kick off his second week back on "Tonight" with Simon Cowell.

This impressive lineup is bad news for die-hard fans of Conan O'Brien, who had hoped A-listers would boycott Leno's "Tonight Show" by way of expressing their disapproval of Leno's return. In fact, the only person who has indicated he'll boycott Leno's show is Will Ferrell, who told an Omaha, Neb., radio station that if asked he would not serve as a Leno "Tonight" guest and would instead call in sick.

This is also bad news for Team CoCo -- because a guest appearance by Ferrell can kill a talk show faster than Chevy Chase.

Huffington Post even gave it a name: "The Will Ferrell Curse."

Ferrell was the first guest on Conan's "Tonight Show," and it was toast in seven months. Ferrell was also the first guest on John McEnroe's talk show, and that one lasted an even shorter period -- six months. Ferrell was the first guest on Megan Mullally's talk show, and it lasted an even shorter time -- just five months.

All three shows were properties of NBC Universal, which apparently has, at long last, learned its lesson and has not invited Ferrell to be among Leno's first guests.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company