Late-night comedian Jay Leno is courting a new audience — children who should be fast asleep when he takes the helm of NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”
The late night television host has penned his first book for kids, “If Roast Beef Could Fly,” based on a story from his own childhood that is due to be published by Simon & Schuster on March 23.
And next week the Crimson Chin, a caped crusader based on a character Leno plays in the cartoon series “The Fairly Oddparents,” gets a prime-time special on cable channel Nickelodeon.
“I always liked kids,” Leno said in an interview ahead of the special’s debut on Monday. Mostly he remembers being surrounded by a huge family. “When I was a kid, I don’t think I was ever alone for more than 30 seconds.”
The confluence of children’s work is a coincidence.
Long-running series “The Fairly Oddparents,” about a boy with two magical fairy godparents who get him into trouble, has featured occasional appearances by the Crimson Chin, a talk show host who gets superpowers — and a swollen chin — after being bitten by a radioactive spider, since it premiered.
“I just liked that kind of voice and it grew from there,” Leno said in a stentorian superhero voice.
His book is based on a true story from his own childhood about a disastrous brush with a roast on a barbecue that his proud father had just installed.
But the book differs from most other children’s literature, he says.
“The fun thing, I think, about this book,” he says, “There is no valuable lesson here. It is just funny.”