Leno's back at 10:35

POSTED: Monday, March 1, 2010 - 8:58am

UPDATED: Friday, June 4, 2010 - 12:00am

The Tonight Show premieres with a new host Monday on NBC.

Jay Leno retakes the reins after leaving the show last May.

Nine months and several controversies later, the job is again his.

NBC is hoping to put the Conan Obrien calamity in the rear-view mirror and return to 2009, when Jay Leno was number one at 11:35.

“It's fun to get back and get back to doing what we did,” said Leno.

“He's getting back to the zone where he was and I think he wants to get back to normal for him,” said New York Times writer Bill Carter.

Carter says there's one other thing Leno should do when he returns to The Tonight Show.

“It might be wise of him to certainly reach out in some way to some younger viewers,” said Carter.

Those viewers made-up departed-host Conan Obrien’s core audience, and may harbor resentment against Jay Leno.

After a Vancouver cooling-off period, the network hopes to prolong its winter winning streak by filling leno's guest chair with popular Olympic athletes.

But one seat that will soon be vacant, that of the band leader.

Kevin Eubanks will return to his familiar spot stage-right for now, but NBC confirmed he will soon leave the show.

“Kevin is a world class musician and he has played all over the world, and I think he wants to maybe get back on the road again and do some of that,” said Leno.

For Jay Leno to get back on the road to being number one in late night, he'll have to go head-to-head against old foe, David letterman or are they friends now?

“I think two fighters can get in the ring and beat the hell out of each other and then shake hands afterwards,” said Leno.

Leno and NBC are hoping that combination of combat, comfort, and couch conversation, will add up to a second successful spin on The Tonight Show.