Here are Jay Leno’s 5 best moments ahead of his Vilar show |

Here are Jay Leno’s 5 best moments ahead of his Vilar show

The Vail Valley Foundation manages the Vilar Performing Arts Center at Beaver Creek, which is bringing in Jay Leno on Friday, July 5.
Mitchell Haaseth | NBC | Gallery

Jay Leno is coming to the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Friday, July 5, with musical opener Scott Rednor.

Leno is an acclaimed TV late night show host, admired stand-up comedian, best-selling author, TV and movie voice-over artist and pioneering car mechanic. He is widely characterized as “the hardest working man in show business.”

After two decades as the host of the no. 1-rated “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” he is now currently producing and hosting “Jay Leno’s Garage” on CNBC, exploring the world of cars and profiling the people behind the wheel.

Here’s a look at five memorable moments from Leno’s career in anticipation of his Vilar Center performance:

Handling a drunk Quentin Tarantino in 2003

Quentin Tarantino had been a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show” when he was visibly intoxicated on an episode in 2003. He had previously been on the show in 19951996 and 1997. He was supposed to be promoting his movie “Kill Bill,” but when Leno tried to ask him questions, he was slurring his words, which were “occasionally incoherent,” The New York Post reported

As it turns out, there used to be an open bar backstage called The Jay Bar, which was intended to help guests unwind before appearing on live national television. Tarantino, apparently, got a little too comfortable. Clips from the infamous night are unfortunately nowhere to be found on the internet.

THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO — Episode 2566 — Pictured: (l-r) Director Quentin Tarantino during an interview with host Jay Leno on September 29, 2003 — (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Racing go-karts with Paul Newman in 2005

Actor, film director, producer, racecar driver, IndyCar owner, entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul Newman joined Leno in 2005 in the “first ever NBC Grand Prix.” The two-lap race around the studio included crowds around every turn. 

Newman was crowned the champ and later talked to Leno about cars, his food line and more.

Fielding apologetic Kanye post-VMA Controversy

Everyone remembers when Kanye West hopped on stage with Taylor Swift, pleading he was going to let her finish. But unplanned, West went on Leno’s show – not “The Tonight Show,” but “The Jay Leno Show” – and publicly apologized for hurting a “talented artist.” Leno asked him when he knew he was wrong. “As soon as I gave the mic back to her,” West answered.

Leno also brought up West’s mother, who Leno met, and asked what she would have thought about the Swift moment. Emotional, West apologized again and pleaded to do better moving forward.

Hosting Barack Obama as the first sitting president to appear on late-night programming in 2009

President Barack Obama talked to the American people through Leno on his late night show in 2009, discussing economic reform. The commander in chief defended himself earlier in the day when someone suggested he shouldn’t be on Leno, “I can’t handle that and the economy at the same time,” he said with a laugh.

Obama was in his first year of his eight-year presidency, making more appearances on late-night shows throughout his tenure. But Leno helped bring Obama to late-night shows first.

Embarrassing Hugh Grant even further in 1995

Back in 1995, Hugh Grant was arrested on the streets of Los Angeles for solitciting prostutition. The actor, then most famous for “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and now most recognizable from “Love Actually,” faced considerable amounts of media and public backlash. So, when he went on “The Tonight Show” almost a year later, Leno’s first question opened what proceeded to be a lighthearted conversation.

“OK, question number one: What the hell were you thinking?” Leno said.

Entertainment editor Casey Russell contributed to this story.

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