Written by Frank Cotolo
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Sunday, 6 June 2004

image for Sharpton pick as next 'Tonight Show' host
Al Sharpton rehearsing a monologue for possible new TV gig.

NEW YORK CITY -- Rev. Al Sharpton is being touted as the replacement for Jay Leno on NBC's legendary Tonight Show.

Sources say Leno will be retiring from the show soon to return to a weekly routine of touring small comedy clubs and that Sharpton is Leno's "first choice to host the show" when he leaves.

Sharpton, a 49-year-old New York native, was ordained as a minister when he was 10, and has long reigned as a social activist and media personality.

"Mr. Sharpton would probably start by doing some guest hosting while Jay sets up some one nighters," said a source at NBC.

Should he replace Leno, Sharpton will be heir to the position once also held by Johnny Carson, Jack Parr, Steve Allen and Jerry Lester.

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