Leno confirms he's leaving 'Tonight Show' next year, Fallon on deck

This undated promotional image released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,' in Los Angeles. NBC on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, announced its long-rumored switch in late night, replacing incumbent Leno at 'The Tonight Show' with Fallon and moving the iconic franchise back to New York. Leno will wrap up what will be 22 years of headlining the iconic late-night show in Spring 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Andrew Eccles)

This undated promotional image released by NBC shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," in Los Angeles. NBC on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, announced its long-rumored switch in late night, replacing incumbent Leno at "The Tonight Show" with Fallon and moving the iconic franchise back to New York. Leno will wrap up what will be 22 years of headlining the iconic late-night show in Spring 2014. (AP Photo/NBC, Andrew Eccles)

Who would be the best 'Tonight Show' host?

See the results »

View previous polls »

This Jan. 13, 2013, photo shows Jay Leno, host of 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,' left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. NBC announced Wednesday, April 3, 2013, that Jimmy Fallon is replacing Jay Leno as the host of 'The Tonight Show' in spring 2014. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

This Jan. 13, 2013, photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. NBC announced Wednesday, April 3, 2013, that Jimmy Fallon is replacing Jay Leno as the host of "The Tonight Show" in spring 2014. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)

NBC on Wednesday announced its long-rumored switch in late night, replacing incumbent Jay Leno at "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon and moving the iconic franchise back to New York.

"Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels will take over as producer of the new "Tonight Show." Fallon's replacement at 12:35 a.m. was not named, although Seth Meyers of "SNL" is considered a strong candidate.

The move had been widely reported but not confirmed by the network until Wednesday. NBC reportedly just wrapped up negotiations with Fallon on a contract extension.

Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBC Universal, said the network is purposefully making the move when Leno is still at the top of the ratings, just as when Leno replaced Johnny Carson at "The Tonight Show."

"Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time," Burke said.

Fallon will take over in conjunction with NBC's coverage of next year's Winter Olympic games. NBC hopes for a big audience — much larger than what it gets in prime time now — to promote the switchover.

NBC is worried that ABC's Jimmy Kimmel will establish himself as a go-to late night performer for a younger generation if the network didn't move swiftly to install Fallon. But the move also has the potential to backfire with Leno's fans, who did not embrace Conan O'Brien when Leno was temporarily moved to prime time a few years ago.

The first effort toward making that transition smooth came on Monday night, when Leno and Fallon appeared in a comic video making fun of all the late-night rumors. It aired in between each man's show.

Leno, in a statement, offered his congratulations to Fallon.

"I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy," he said. "If you need me, I'll be at the garage."

Fallon said, "I'm really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow."

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features