Try, if you can, to set your minds back to the salad days of 2004.

It was an innocent time in late-night TV, when NBC execs weren't a go-to punchline, when David Letterman's only use for interns was photocopying, and when a fleetingly gracious Jay Leno handed off The Tonight Show to then-pal Conan O'Brien.

Ironically, Leno did so by proclaiming that he would never man the show into his 60s (for those keeping track, he's now 59), that he doesn't want to see Conan on any other network (ahem), and by praising the loyalty of his good pal Jerry Seinfeld.

OK, so maybe times haven't changed that much.

As for Conan, well, Team CoCo won't be surprised to hear that he was as classy with his statement then as he was last week. Make that classy and oh so naïve.

"I'll be doing this show for about four and a half more years and then I'm going to be taking over The Tonight Show on NBC," the then-optimistic O'Brien said, before uttering a rather prescient joke.

"Huge mistake."

And speaking of hindsight…

"I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to everyone at NBC for making this possible, and particularly to Jay Leno. Jay Leno has been a big supporter of mine, a good friend to me for 11 years when I first showed up at this network. And he's been incredibly kind and gracious to me about the whole thing. He's a class act."

OK, so maybe times have changed after all.

And to think, this whole thing could have been avoided, if only Conan had listened to Howard Stern, who Tonight Show bookers have been courting for O'Brien's all-but-confirmed final week on air, and who has been reaming Leno all week on his Sirius show.

"I read in the paper that Conan is going to replace Jay Leno, thank god," Stern told O'Brien back in 2006, before turning serious. "Do you think that's really gonna happen?

"I don't see this guy leaving and letting you walk in. I'm concerned about you."

"You're concerned? What about me?" said O'Brien, who then gave his Tonight Show tenure a "40 percent chance" of actually happening.

Well, he was close. Give or take 40 percent.


Leno and O'Brien aren't the only names in late-night. There's, Jennifer Lopez?!

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