NBC did right and put an end to the media circus and all the jokes over their worst kept secret, their succession plan for The Tonight Show. (I mean come on, once Jon Stewart gets involved, it’s serious). It’s official, Jimmy Fallon come Spring 2014 is your new Tonight Show host.
There was concern expressed by producer of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels (aka the true king of late night), that Jimmy Fallon wouldn’t be able to get the show ready by NBC’s ideal launch date of “in conjuction” with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Well, Lorne Michaels is now the new Tonight Show producer, the show is making it’s return to 30 Rock after 42 years in Burbank, and NBC gets their launch date. Sounds like a win all around.
So who’s replacing Fallon? That’s a good question, especially since it’s assumed that Late Night will also remain at 30 Rock. If that’s true, count on an SNL alum. Seth Myers’ name keeps getting dropped, but is he really a serious contender? Stay tuned.
As for Jay Leno, if he truly isn’t able to retire, there’s always basic cable. It worked for Conan. That’s the problem though, with Fallon taking The Tonight Show, late night viewing options get more complicated. Also in that time slot is Jimmy Kimmel, David Letterman, Steven Colbert, and Conan O’Brien. Given the fact that The Tonight Show is number one in late night, and Fallon’s show was number one in it’s slot, NBC starts with an advantage.
As for me personally, I haven’t watched The Tonight Show in 22 years, except for Conan O’Brien’s brief tenure. I did watch that (all of it). Jay Leno was never my thing. I’ve been tuning into Jon Stewart and Conan O’Brien, alternating between DVR and live, but I’m going to reconsider and start giving Fallon a try, especially when I often tune into his 12:35 show. That means two of these guys are going to end up on my DVR, or I alternate at 11:00 and change to Fallon at 11:35. Needless to say, this is going to cause a shuffle at my household. We won’t even talk about what happens if David Letterman retires.
So, are you excited about this change, not pleased, or you just don’t care? Does this change your late night viewing schedule at all?
Here’s the official NBC press release:
JAY LENO ANNOUNCES HIS DEPARTURE FROM SUCCESSFUL 22-YEAR RUN FROM NBC’S ‘Tonight Show” IN SPRING 2014
Jimmy Fallon (NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) to Assume Reins of Iconic Franchise as Host
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – April 03, 2013 – 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.
Before Leno became the host of the top-rated “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” he honed his comedy in clubs all over the country often exceeding 300 dates per year. He opened for the likes of Tom Jones and John Denver and after moving to Los Angeles began his career in television and film, both writing behind the scenes and making appearances in shows such as “Welcome Back Kotter” and films including “American Hot Wax.” On March 2, 1977, Leno made his first appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” and was named permanent guest host in 1987. While he took over the desk full-time in 1992, Leno never stopped touring on the comedy circuit and still averages over 150 gigs a year.
Emmy and Grammy Award winner, Fallon began his TV career with “Saturday Night Live” in 1998, where he quickly became an audience favorite. Known for his spot-on impressions, innovative musical and comedy sketches and his stint as co-anchor of “Weekend Update” with Tina Fey, Fallon spent six successful years on the show. In March 2009, Fallon returned to NBC and took over the late- night legacy with “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” The show has continued to garner attention for its viral videos, audience games, A-list guests, and Fallon’s choice of critically acclaimed house-band, The Roots.
In just four years on air, Fallon and the “Late Night” team have already begun collecting awards. Most recently, Fallon was honored with his second consecutive People’s Choice Award for Favorite Late Night Host (2012 and 2013) and the show received the 2012 Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Talk Show. “Late Night” was celebrated with a 2012 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Variety Series and earned three Emmy nominations in 2011, including the show’s first nominations in the series and writing categories. The year prior, Fallon earned an Emmy for the show’s website in the Interactive Media category and received the “Webby Person of the Year” Award in 2009. Fallon received a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album after releasing “Blow Your Pants Off” in 2012, a musical comedy album featuring song parodies written and performed on “Late Night.”