NBC Announces That Jimmy Fallon Will Replace Jay Leno On ‘The Tonight Show’

Jimmy Will Take the Reigns Next Year, Production Moves to NYC

Welp, it’s official, y’all. For weeks now there has been lots of chatter going around suggesting that Jimmy Fallon would be replacing Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show … and just this morning, NBC confirmed the rumors as true. Leno will leave the show in 2014 and Fallon will step in as the new host! To be honest, I don’t watch late night TV talk shows at all but … I greatly approve of this deal. Jimmy Fallon is amazingly talented (as evidenced by his fun week with Justin Timberlake) and I think he will make a great host on The Tonight Show. I’m also not sad to see Jay Leno go away so … it’s a win/win!

After months of speculation, a slew of news stories, a ton of late-night jokes and a Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon duet, NBC has set a date for Leno’s departure from The Tonight Show and has officially anointed Fallon as the new host of the venerable late-night franchise. The network is expected to announce shortly that, as widely expected, Fallon will take over The Tonight Show in 2014. The show will originate from New York. It will be set at the 30 Rock studio that now houses Fallon’s Late Night, which is undergoing renovation that is slated to be completed in 2014, in time for the launch of The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. The announcement comes on the heels of Fallon signing a new deal with NBC. Leno’s contract with the network is up in September 2014. NBC just made the official announcement. Jay Leno will depart The Tonight Show in spring 2014 after 22 years and will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon. The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon will be based in New York, where The Tonight Show originated, and executive produced by Lorne Michaels, marking the first time the Saturday Night Live and Late Night executive producer has been in charge of The Tonight Show. The timing of the changeover mirrors that in 2009 when Leno handed The Tonight Show to Conan O’Brien in late May … “Congratulations Jimmy,” Leno said, keeping with the friendly relationship he and Fallon had been projecting. “I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.” Said Fallon: “I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”

Here are excerpts from the full press release announcement from NBC:

Jay Leno, longtime host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” announced today that he will wrap up what will be 22 years of headlining the iconic late-night show in Spring 2014. NBC also announced today that Jimmy Fallon, now host of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” will transition into new hosting duties on “The Tonight Show” franchise after Leno concludes his successful run. As part of the transition, “The Tonight Show” will be returning to its original home in 30 Rock in New York and will be executive-produced by Emmy Award winner Lorne Michaels (“Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock”). Programming plans for the 12:35 a.m. (ET) time period currently are in development and will be announced soon. Said Leno: “Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.” Said Fallon: “I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.” “Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years,” said Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal. “His long reign as the highest-rated late-night host is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to his viewers and to NBC. “We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1. Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time. I’m thrilled he will become the sixth host of ‘The Tonight Show’ at exactly the right moment, in conjunction with our coverage of next year’s Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia. “I also want to congratulate and thank Debbie Vickers and her ‘Tonight Show’ team for producing an entertaining, first-class show every night for the past two decades. Debbie’s role in the creative and popular success of this franchise cannot be overstated.” Leno has hosted “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” since taking over the reins from television icon Johnny Carson in 1992. “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has ranked #1 ahead of its ABC and CBS time-period competition in 18-49 viewers and total viewers for each season since Leno’s return in March 2010 and for the 14 seasons before his departure in May 2009. During the current season, “Tonight” is consistently #1 versus its ABC and CBS slot rivals, averaging a 0.8 rating, 3 share in adults 18-49 and 3.5 million viewers overall. At 12:35 a.m. ET, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” has consistently ranked #1 in 18-49 versus the time period’s ABC and CBS competition each season since debuting in March of 2009 and has also held the advantage over CBS’s “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” in total viewers for the last three seasons. So far during the 2012-13 season, “Late Night” is averaging a 0.5 rating, 3 share in adults 18-49 and 1.7 million viewers overall.

Goodbye Jay Leno, please don’t come back. I was never a big Leno fan but I didn’t mind him at all and never had any negative feelings toward him … until he left The Tonight Show in 2009, handed the reigns over to Conan O’Brien and then came back 9 months later to host the show again and give Conan the shaft. From that moment on, Leno was pretty much dead to me. I sincerely hope the same thing won’t happen to Jimmy. He is so deserving of this upgrade so … this is great news all around. Congrats Jimmy!!! Go away Jay.

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  1. Yeah, sure he will…until Jay changes his mind.

    I completely lost all respect for Jay during the Conan fiasco.

  2. As the only member of the “Jimmy Fallon Should Host Everything Campaign”, this is excellent news! Now I can watch his show in real time instead of online the following day! I wonder if he’ll put NBC in his thank you notes…lol

    Trent, I feel the same way about Jay. I have nothing against him, but not necessarily a fan. I’ll watch him though… and maybe it’s wrong of me to say, (but I’m okay with saying it cause everyone landed on their feet and are still mega rich…lol,) but I’m a slight bit thankful things happened the way they did, cause Fallon got the tonight show waaaaaaaay earlier than he ever would have, had Conan still been there. (and I really did try, but I cannot get Conan’s humor). so slight yay!

  3. DJ

    Wow, truly the end of an era. Not so much that Lenomis stepping down (thank god), but that they’re moving the show to NYC. The Tonight Show had been such a staple in Burbank when it was NBC and is now Burbank Studios. My first few jobs out here were on the old NBC lot and we’d always wonder who was on Leno that we could sneak over and watch. Got to meet Morrissey and Depeche Mode and got my BFF in to meet Robert Smith.

    When family and friends would visit from the east coast, I made the. Feel like VIPs,being able to take them behind the scenes and down hallways they’d never go down as ordinary civilians. And there was always a new a nd fun automobile in Leno’s spot, so much so that it became a major stop on the official NBC tour.

    I’m really happy or Jimmy Fallon as he is incredibly talented and charming, but also feel like part of my childhood is being torn down. Not sad, just nostalgic, it’s even weird driving by the old NBC lot (they moved to Universal) and seeing the Burbank Studios sign.

    Life goes on…

  4. Yayyy! I totally adore Jimmy and I am so happy for him!! I will also be so happy to see Leno go. I have been so sick of him, especially after he wronged Conan so badly. I can’t wait for Jimmy to take over!

  5. @Trent “From that moment on, Leno was pretty much dead to me.”

    Agreed. Good for Fallon, and I hope Leno follows through this time. Leno added insult to injury by saying, “The main difference between this and the other time is I’m part of the process. The last time, the decision was made without me.” Rude. Conando ain’t got time fo dat anywayzzzzz.

  6. Alecia

    Yeah if Leno does to Jimmy what he did to Conan I think alot of us will posse up and chase him down.
    That being said I think Leno was lucky to be there as long as he had. The way he played his friendship with Letterman to best him int he first placed was shady. And we all know what happened with Conan.
    I think Jimmy will make it more of his own. And I also join the Jimmy should host everything club.
    Sidenote, I want Timberweek part 2- especially since we get 20/20 Part 2!

  7. The Truth Hurts

    First of all Jay didn’t do anything. It was NBC who gave him the tonight show back. Let’s get that straight first. Jay just say Yes. If anyone the bad guy it’s NBC. It looks like NBC really want to throw everything in the crapper. I mean they screw themselves out of being the top morning show and now the tonight show again. Jimmy is a fine choice but he’s not ready for this at all. Jay is still the top of his game.

    • Lynne

      Exactly. It wasn’t Jay’s fault, it was NBC’s. Also, Conan had low ratings when he hosted The Tonight Show. He wasn’t a good fit, he’s better on TBS. The only thing that was shady about the whole Conan/Jay situation was that Jay came back without having a real conversation with Conan about the mess… Jimmy Fallon is great, but I guess I’m of the few who will miss Jay.

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