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The Conan O' Brien Tonight Show Era Begins Tonight

Jun. 1 2009, Published 5:30 a.m. ET

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Joining a very exclusive show biz fraternity, Conan O'Brien takes the helm as the fifth-ever host of the Tonight Show Monday, following in the footsteps of Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.

O'Brien -- who Jay Leno featured as his last official guest -- kicks off his reign with A-list funnyman Will Ferrell and 90s grunge pioneers Pearl Jam.

He told the Toronto Star of some sage advice he received from one of his esteemed predecessors.

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"Basically, all anyone who knows anything about these shows can tell you is that you've got to do it your way. That's actually the oldest advice I've ever had – I got it from Johnny Carson, years ago, when I first met him. He basically told me, 'Just be yourself,'" he said. "These shows are such an extension of the host. I think the reason Jay's show worked so well is that he did it his way. And Johnny Carson did it his way, which was quite different from Jack Paar, who did it his way, which was really different from Steve Allen, who did it his way."

Will Ferrell

(Photo: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC)



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