Now that Conan O’Brien has been back on the air for a few months and his shows have not only had the same kind of water cooler following as ever but are also putting up big ratings numbers, you can expect the late night arena to heat up sooner or later. It’s uncertain who will fire the first shot, but now that we’re a year out from 2010′s great late night war, it’s time to get back to the business of figuring out exactly who is going to be on top.
With the stakes so high, why is David Letterman on vacation this week? It leaves Jay Leno’s “The Tonight Show” at the forefront of the game this week, and he will certainly be delivering big names, including “The Mechanic” star Jason Statham (Tuesday, January 25), Golden Globe winner Annette Bening (Wednesday, January 26) and international pop sensation Justin Bieber (Friday, January 28). (Bieber won’t be performing but rather chatting about his upcoming film “Never Say Never.”)
Over on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the host will welcome “Glee” actor Cory Monteith (Monday, January 24), “The Rite” star Anthony Hopkins (Tuesday) and “American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest (Thursday, January 27). Kimmel will also have a solid music week, with performances from Cold War Kids (Wednesday) and Cage the Elephant (Thursday). Letterman may not be working this week, but Craig Ferguson is, and he’s talking to Jennifer Love Hewitt (Tuesday), Betty White (Wednesday) and Helena Bonham Carter (Friday) on “The Late Late Show.” The comedian’s conversation with White should be especially entertaining and well worth losing some sleep.
In the cable universe, Jon Stewart will talk to James Franco (Tuesday) and the always delightfully crazy T. Boone Pickens (Thursday) on “The Daily Show,” while Stephen Colbert will turn the tables on Charlie Rose on Monday’s edition of “The Colbert Report.” It’s a big week for interviewing the interviewers apparently, as Chelsea Handler will talk to Piers Morgan on Tuesday’s episode of “Chelsea Lately” and Conan O’Brien will welcome Larry King to Monday’s episode of “Conan.” Other “Conan” guests include Iron & Wine (Monday), Patton Oswalt (Tuesday) and Mötörhead (Wednesday). And George Lopez will continue to kill it on “Lopez Tonight” with the likes of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (Monday), “Glee” star Kevin McHale (Tuesday) and a performance from rapper Wiz Khalifa (Wednesday).