Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 14, 2014

Double cheeseburger, french fries -- and JAY LENO

`Tonight Show' host at McDonald's

By Judy Wakefield

---- — The telephone calls from producers of “60 Minutes” started last week. Favorite hometown son and longtime “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno is retiring, and the famed TV show is planning a farewell segment.

And Leno was set to come for a lengthy interview this past Saturday.

“I didn’t get much notice, but when ‘60 Minutes’ called and said Jay Leno was coming, it was pretty exciting to hear,” said Carissa Haley, who owns and operates the McDonald’s restaurant on North Main Street in Andover.

Leno once worked there and says he got his start in comedy making his co-workers laugh.

Leno, along with a “60 Minutes” crew, including co-host Steve Kroft and a cameraman, arrived about 10:30 a.m. and stayed for more than an hour, Haley said. Leno didn’t eat anything.

Instead he got right to work manning the restaurant’s drive-through window.

“He was great. ... He took orders and was at the window,” said Haley, who has a voice recording of his impromptu stint at the drive-through window. “Yes, customers were shocked to see him at the window.”

For Leno, 63, it was a moment relived from his youth. McDonald’s gave the 1968 Andover High School graduate his first job as a teen.

His childhood home on Clark Road in Ballardvale is long gone — bulldozed for a nearby large housing development — and his parents, Catherine and Angelo Leno, and only brother, Patrick Leno, are deceased.

But Leno clearly has great memories of growing up in Andover. Childhood friend John Munro of North Andover met Leno at McDonald’s on Saturday and shared fond memories as the two worked the counter.

“Jay was always very, very funny ... we had a good time working at McDonald’s, if you can believe that,” Munro said. “We had a good time telling stories. Steve Kroft seemed really interested in hearing them.”

It was Leno who called Munro about meeting up at McDonald’s, but it was “60 Minutes” that called Phillips Academy looking for an interview space. Leno went to Phillips Academy after his visit to McDonald’s.

PA spokesman Steve Porter said producers asked for space for last Saturday.

“So, we had them use a conference room in Draper Hall,” Porter said.

No date has been announced for the “60 Minutes” piece to air.

Leno’s last show is scheduled for Feb. 6, with Jimmy Fallon scheduled to take over “The Tonight Show.”

Bill Burt contributed to this story.