Jay Leno: Kevin Foley/NBC
Gary Susman
September 19, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Sometime during Monday’s ”Tonight Show,” squeezed in between segments with Robert Downey Jr., Blue Man Group, and ”Last Comic Standing”’s Tess Drake, will be appearances by 80 of the 135 candidates in the California governor’s recall election. The candidates will be seated together in the audience, where they’ll get a shout-out from Leno and another from the Blue Man Group, who are performing a song ”specific to the program,” Leno’s spokesperson tells EW.com. How so? ”You’ll have to watch to find out.”

Leno came up with the invite idea last month, after Arnold Schwarzenegger surprised viewers by using ”Tonight” as the forum to announce his candidacy. A week later, Leno extended an open invitation to all the contenders to come sit in the audience during the Sept. 22 taping. ”And Gary Coleman, don’t worry, we’ll have a booster seat,” Leno quipped. So far, some 80 candidates, including Coleman, have confirmed their attendance. ”Sure, Gary will be there,” a spokesman for the ”Diff’rent Strokes” star said last month. ”That’ll be fun.”

Whether anyone will get to vote for any of these candidates as scheduled on Oct. 7 remains up in the air. On Sept. 15, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals enjoined the election, ruling that it should not take place until the obsolete, error-prone punch-card machines that nearly half of California voters use are replaced, which is scheduled to happen in time for the state’s general primary election next March. However, before you could say ”hanging chad,” the court put its decision on hold pending an appeal. On Friday, the court decided to rehear the case ”en banc,” meaning it will convene a new panel of judges on Monday to review the ruling.

(Additional reporting by Liane Bonin)

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