Today: Jun 24, 2024

Move over Leno, Fallon to host The Tonight Show

Photo courtesy | Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno

Robin Glynn – General Assignment Reporter

The late night wars will soon have a new face, as Jimmy Fallon will be taking over Jay Leno’s hosting duties on The Tonight Show. Nevertheless, NBC is trying to avoid the debacle like they did in 2009.

The change is expected to occur in the spring of 2014; NBC is not known for subtle and easy transitions. Remember Ann Curry from the Today Show and the tension between her and Matt Lauer on her last day, as well as the London Olympic Games?

Rumors began to circulate months ago that the move would happen, but as usual, Leno, Fallon and NBC had denied the rumors. As the rumors heated up recently, Leno began taking shots at NBC, his longtime network.

Fallon is expected to begin late night around the time of the Winter Olympics, which are set to take place in Russia, and this is expected to give the network a larger prime-time audience.  Fallon will be on his own by the time Olympic flame is extinguished.

Leno has been NBC golden boy for almost 20 years as host of The Tonight Show.

But as host the second time around, ratings had declined and NBC was reportedly losing money.

“According to several reports, scientists say they are getting closer and closer to being able to do Jurassic Park-style cloning of extinct species,” Leno told the audience. “Imagine that. Things that were once thought to be extinct could be brought back from the dead. So there’s hope for NBC. It could turn around.”

On Wednesday, NBC release a statement.

“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is No. 1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was No. 1,” said Steve Burke, NBC Universal chief executive officer, in a statement. “Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time.”

Burke said Fallon is a unique talent and that this is his time.

“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.”

This change is not causing an uproar as it did in 2009 with Conan O’Brien and Leno. To recap, O’Brien took over the Tonight Show in 2009.

NBC wanted Leno to come back to the show and wanted to push O’Brien to the 12:05 a.m. time slot.

NBC gave O’Brien another option: receive a $33 million payout and his staff, of approximately 200, would receive $12 million in their departure deal, and Leno was brought back after seven months.

The treatment O’Brien received brought the network months of negative coverage.

With NBC’s announcement, one question that has been asked is if the network is trying to rewrite history.

As part of their statement, NBC said ““Leno has hosted ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ since taking over the reins from television icon Johnny Carson in 1992.”

While people at NBC might watch to forget the whole Leno versus O’Brien feud, the audience of late night has not.

There are things NBC can to do avoid the debacle in 2009. The network can make sure the two comics are on board with the change.

Leno might not like it, but if he respects Fallon, the transition and media coverage will be easier.

The biggest thing they could do is not change their minds and bring Leno back.

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