Jay Leno sets high-profile "Tonight Show" guests

Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:13pm EST

Host Jay Leno smiles during a panel for his upcoming television series ''The Jay Leno Show'' at the Television Critics Association Cable summer press tour in Pasadena, California August 5, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Host Jay Leno smiles during a panel for his upcoming television series ''The Jay Leno Show'' at the Television Critics Association Cable summer press tour in Pasadena, California August 5, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Jay Leno's first two weeks back as host of NBC's "Tonight Show" features a celebrity-packed lineup as NBC tries to revive the late-night franchise.

Leno, reclaiming the reins from Conan O'Brien next Monday, will welcome former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, the cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore," "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell and Olympians Apolo Anton Ohno, Shaun White and Lindsey Vonn.

Musical guests include Brad Paisley, Avril Lavigne, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Both Leno's and NBC's ratings and reputation took a beating after he was eased out of the prestige slot last May, and given a weeknight primetime show. Viewership of "The Tonight Show" also declined under O'Brien (until his final week last month). NBC paid O'Brien more than $30 million to exit the show.

Having big-name draws like Palin can only help as NBC tries to make "Tonight" appointment viewing once again. His other guests his first couple weeks include Dakota Fanning, Kim Kardashian, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman.