By Taylor Bell
Jay Leno is stepping down from his post at NBC’s The Tonight Show after taking over from Johnny Carson over 20 years ago. Many thought that since Leno is the King of late night, that his heir apparent would be Jimmy Fallon, the current host of his own show, “Late Night”. After weeks of speculation, that rumor has been confirmed; NBC announced today that Jimmy Fallon will take over from Leno next spring. This will be the second departure for Leno from The Tonight Show. His first successor was Conan O’Brien, however that move was ill-fated, and Leno returned to his host chair after a short period of time.
Fallon’s turn in the Tonight Show chair will take place in New York City, where it originally aired in the 1950’s. In 1972 Carson moved the show to Los Angeles where it has remained until now. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is said to be thrilled that the Tonight Show is returning to it’s ” original home” and that this move will bring “more jobs and economic activity” to the city.
Late-night shows have much more competition now then they did in the past. Although these late night talk shows have a large fan base, they do not carry the same weight with advertisers that they once did. Many factors contribute to this; cable programs, smaller talk shows with comedian hosts, and the fact that a large number of people tape their favorite shows on DVRs, have narrowed late night’s viewership.
NBC is worried that ABC’s JImmy Kimmel will establish himself as the younger generation’s late night show favorite. The network wants to move quickly to get Fallon in place at the Tonight Show, since he attracts the same audience as Kimmel. NBC is hoping that ultimately Fallon will defeat his competition in the ratings.
Initially, Jay Leno was not that kind about Jimmy Fallon’s take over. He poked fun at NBC for trying to replace him, which angered his current employers. However, on Monday night, Leno and Fallon appeared in a comic video making fun of the rumors surrounding the Leno-Fallon changeover. The video aired in between The Tonight Show and Late Night.
Fallon will take over in about a year, the switch coinciding with NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage next year. Veteran “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels also will take over as executive producer of “Tonight.”
Seth Meyers. a current host of “Saturday Night Live” is rumored to be Fallon’s replacement.