NEW YORK This bodes well for NBC's plan to make Jay Leno a nightly primetime fixture once his Tonight Show incumbency has ended: A Harris Poll released this week shows respondents enshrining Leno as their "favorite TV personality." Runner-up was Hugh Laurie, with Ellen DeGeneres -- last year's top vote-getter -- coming in third.
Oprah Winfrey, who occupied the top spot in this annual poll during much of the decade, comes in at No. 4. Rather than indicating a loss of popularity on her part, this may mean many people now regard Winfrey as some sort of national institution rather than as a mere "TV personality." Filling out the top 10: David Letterman, Jon Stewart, Charlie Sheen, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Mark Harmon.
While Leno led the voting among the poll's male respondents, DeGeneres was tops among women. Among single women, though, Laurie was No. 1. In a breakdown by age group, Laurie was also the leading vote-getter among 18-31-year-olds and tied with DeGeneres for top honors among 32-43s. The older cohorts went for Leno. DeGeneres was the favorite of Democrats in the poll, while Leno led among Republicans and independents.
Sheen, Carell and Harmon are newcomers to the top 10. They displaced Bill O'Reilly, Ray Romano and Homer Simpson. (Doh!)