According to the New York Times, current Late Show host, Jimmy Fallon is set to take over the Tonight Show no later than fall 2014 when Jay Leno’s current contract is up.
While the network has yet to complete a deal, it has made a commitment to Jimmy Fallon, the current host of its “Late Night” program, to have him succeed Jay Leno as the next host of “Tonight,” according to several senior television executives involved in the decision. The show would move from Burbank, Calif., back to New York, where it first started in 1954 with Steve Allen as host.
Some details remain to be worked out, including an exact timetable for the switch, though it is expected to take place by the fall of 2014 at the latest, the executives said in interviews this week.
Reportedly, NBC executives became nervous after ABC moved Jimmy Kimmel to 11:30. Live with Jimmy Kimmel has been gaining momentum over the past few years, ratings wise. The fear is that Jimmy, as a Generation Xer, could eventually nab those desirable younger viewers–although this has not happened yet. The Tonight Show continues to be #1 in the key demo ahead of the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS and Live with Jimmy Kimmel.
The most intriguing aspect of this report is the possibility of the Tonight Show moving back to New York City where it once reigned supreme until it moved to Burbank in 1972. The move away from LA lessens the ability to get A list movie stars to guest on the show, but it’s an interesting idea. Going back to its roots is one way to perhaps bring back the luster and prestige the Tonight Show once enjoyed. However, I’m not sure it can ever be restored after 20 years with the supremely unoriginal Jay Leno at the helm.
Speaking of which–Attempts to replace Leno over the years have failed. First, there was that epic battle for the Tonight Show with David Letterman in the early 90s after Johnny Carson retired. In 2009, Leno played the thing that would not go away when Conan O’Brien took over Tonight (just as NBC brass promised him several years ealier).
After Leno failed in prime time, where he presided over a nightly hour long talk show at 10 pm (what a horrible idea) NBC execs handed him his old job back. Conan’s ratings weren’t good, but he was hardly given a chance, particularly after Leno’s show functioned as a terrible lead in. The influential and brilliant David Letterman has always been Tonight’s rightful air in my book, in any case.
In case you haven’t already figured it out–I am Team Dave and Team Coco, now and forevermore. And I won’t feel the least bit sad if Leno’s contract is not renewed next year.
But if I were Fallon, I’d watch my back.