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George Lopez says late-night hosting days are behind him

The Associated Press, Thursday, March 28, 2013, 12:08pm (PDT)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) -- Amid rumors of another "Tonight" show shake-up, comedian George Lopez says he has no desire to return to the late-night talk show scene.

Lopez said he had a great two-year run as a late-night talk show host. But, he said, "I'm out of that thing."

"I know all those guys. They're all good guys, but that's a tough job. There are a lot of tough jobs in TV. That could be one of the toughest, hosting a show every night," Lopez said Wednesday night.

Lopez's comments in Sioux Falls before taking the stage for a stand-up show benefiting the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy come after amid fresh turbulence in the late-night talk show business after word leaked last week that "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon will unseat Jay Leno as the new host of NBC's "Tonight." The network has not confirmed the rumor.

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Lopez wound up losing his cable television gig in August 2011 in a trickle-down effect from the last time the "Tonight" seat changed hands.

TBS canceled "Lopez Tonight" after its second-year viewership dropped 40 percent when Lopez moved his show back an hour to midnight to make room for Conan O'Brien. Lopez gave up his 11 p.m. Eastern slot to accommodate O'Brien, who joined TBS after a time-slot dispute that ended up reinstating Jay Leno as "Tonight" host.

Lopez said he had a great time hosting the TBS show and that the gig gave him the opportunity to get to know everyone in the entertainment field, from actors Helen Mirren and Ben Kingsley to musicians Prince, Janet Jackson and Snoop Dogg.

"I tried to create a party, and we did," he said. "The greatest was getting a harmonica from John Popper and then doing shots with the band, Blues Traveler, in the back."

Lopez joked that he's probably better off that the party ended "just for the fact that I wanted to live a little bit longer."

"We went hard every night," he said. "We did it like the old days. You'd sit around and drink till like 11 and then go home and come back and do it all over again.

Lopez said he's been keeping busy since his show was canceled, voicing parts for "Smurfs 2" and "Rio 2" and working on an "alleged project in TV." He was recently anointed by Bill Cosby to take over as master of ceremonies of the annual Playboy Jazz Festival.

"He called me himself and he said he'd like for me to succeed him, which is a tremendous honor," Lopez said. "And also we had a 40-minute conversation of the dos and don'ts of hosting."

Cosby has been a fixture at the gathering of jazz luminaries since the first festival in 1979. This year's show, scheduled for June 15 and 16 at the Hollywood Bowl, will feature Herbie Hancock, Jeffrey Osborne, Sheila E. and Grace Kelly.

Cosby's tips for Lopez included not letting the musicians into his dressing room. "They won't leave and they'll eat all your food and drink all the drink and smoke all that funny stuff."

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