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.