Is NBC Moving ‘The Tonight Show’ to New York City for Jimmy Fallon?

Published 2 years ago by

NBC Moving Tonight Show to New York Is NBC Moving The Tonight Show to New York City for Jimmy Fallon?

Though nothing is official, rumors have been swirling that Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno as the host of the The Tonight Show before 2014, and now a studio-sized indication of what the future holds may be rearing it’s head thanks to Bill Carter.

As the author of both The Late Shift and The War for Late Night – books that separately detailed Leno’s ascension to the Tonight Show gig and his stunning re-emergence as host in 2010 (to the detriment of Conan O’Brien) – when Carter speaks on matters pertaining to the late night wars, people tend to listen.

Today, Carter did just that, reporting in The New York Times that NBC is in the process of building one hell of a palace right in the middle of Manhattan and 30 Rockefeller Center for Jimmy Fallon – late night’s presumptive host-to-be.

In the report, Carter states:

“NBC has quietly begun work on a new studio in its headquarters building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza as the home for the new ‘Tonight Show.’ The studio is part of a general reconstruction of the building being undertaken by Comcast, which this week completed a full takeover of NBC Universal.

An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment on the move, other than to say the network was building a new state-of-the-art studio for Mr. Fallon.”

Carter also points out that The Tonight Show has been a West Coast operation since 1972, when the Johnny Carson-hosted show moved from New York to Burbank in pursuit of Hollywood adjacency and all the baubles that come with such a prime locale.

But times have changed, and while The Tonight Show‘s California home still has some geographical advantage when booking guests, it isn’t so beneficial that a first slot late night show couldn’t survive 3,000 miles away – David Letterman’s Late Show has been proving that for almost 20 years.

Jay Leno and Conan OBrien Is NBC Moving The Tonight Show to New York City for Jimmy Fallon?

Interestingly enough, if The Tonight Show returns to it’s ancestral home (the show debuted in New York in 1954 with Steve Allen as host), then one person might benefit nominally from being one of the biggest games left in California: Conan O’Brien.

You’ll remember that O’Brien vacated New York in 2009 to take over The Tonight Show after Jay Leno’s first departure, bringing a large chunk of his New York staff from the Late Night show that he had hosted since 1993 with him. That Late Night show is, of course, what Fallon now hosts, in a studio that Johnny Carson once used for his Tonight Show before moving out west. Isn’t life cyclical?

With nothing confirmed, there’s obviously no word regarding why NBC is (allegedly) willing to move The Tonight Show back to New York to appeal to Fallon when they had no interest in doing the same thing for O’Brien. Team Coco will surely take this as another slight and it’ll be interesting to see if O’Brien has anything to say about it.

For that matter, it’ll be really interesting to see how Leno reacts to all of this, especially when it becomes official. Leno’s contract expires in 2014 and his last exile from the Tonight Show didn’t exactly work out for anyone, particularly Conan, but also NBC, which bungled the transition by handing Leno a nightly chat show at 10pm that failed spectacularly.

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Is NBC Moving The Tonight Show to New York City for Jimmy Fallon?

That move doubtlessly harmed both NBC’s ability to develop hour long dramas and O’Brien’s ability to succeed a man who was still very much in the room. It also irritated some affiliates, prompting NBC to add fuel to the fire by trying to move Leno back to 11:35pm while pushing O’Brien and his neutered Tonight Show to 12:05am.

We all know what happened next, from O’Brien’s exit to Jay Leno’s return and all the fun that rivals Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, and David Letterman had at Leno’s (and NBC’s) expense – a fiasco that NBC can’t afford to repeat. So the real question is, if Leno – who wasn’t ready to retire three years ago – still doesn’t feel like his Tonight Show time has come to an end, what does NBC intend to do about it?

Only time will tell, but sometimes it feels like the behind scenes politics of the late night world are at least half as interesting as the shows themselves.

The Tonight Show airs weeknights on NBC @11:35pm.


Sources: The New York Times & The Daily News

Follow Jason Tabrys on Twitter @jtabrys
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  1. Are we sure Leno will leave this time? or will he just step in and screw someone else out of a spot they earned? I hate Leno, I didn’t used to, but the fact that he let that BS happen to a friend and colleague was pitiful. He has no honor and neither does NBC.

    • I thought he left like 4 years ago, I guess I’ve missed something…

    • NBC fired Conan because he got low ratings. To save the Tonight Show, they wisely offered Jay his old job back. NBC is making the same mistake again. Why would they fire Leno who is #1 even among the 18-49 demographic? It makes no sense.

      NBC excectives are dense. They have ruined the Today Show, and I guess they aren’t finished yet.

      And why are they moving the Tonight Show to New York? Too many talk shows are filmed there now and they’re all the same. They all have on Bloomberg, and they all tell us who they had dinner with last night.

      Oh well. RIP Tonight Show.

    • Jay Leno is a truly nice guy! I’ve met him! My mom works with him! You guys are rude.

  2. I hope he leaves for good this time. I don’t like Jay Leno he’s not funny and he screwed over Conan O’Brien and David Letterman who are much better and funnier than Leno.

    • Leno is number one in the ratings, even among the coveted 18-49 demographic.

  3. Actually Leno’s move to 10PM (9PM central)produced an audience about where expected and because it was far less expensive to run. The network and the affiliates thought even though Leno numbers would be slightly lower than the regular programming the viewers would come back for the 11/10PM news (which usually generates 20 to 40% of a stations revenue)
    With the massive cable choice and the fact that it’s easy to change channel it made a lot of sense. Unfortunately, viewers didn’t tune back at 11/10 and that’s why NBC affiliates were screaming for a return to traditional programming.
    The operation was a success, but the patient died.

  4. It should have stayed with Conan!!

  5. So first it was Heroes, then The Event, then Chuck, then Community, now the Tonight Show?

    Someone needs to be shot.

    in the words of Craig Ferguson: “Thank you for telling us about the wonderful show Community, which is so abused by NBC, but then again they’re f$#@%&* idiots.”

    • My mom works for nbc I should know how they act! They are wonderful! It’s just that their boss retired and put them through a merger.

  6. The only talk show host almost as bland as Jay Leno is Jimmy Fallon

  7. I think they are both funny. I don’t want them unless the guests are appealing and I definitely don’t watch them live. Ill tune in on Hulu at a later time. I do miss old school Conan though. I was excited for him to take over but he ruined it himself. He lost his edge.

  8. I honestly couldnt care less about Leno, just get rid of him and allow Fallon to take over. I (personally) do not think that Jay Leno is funny or comedic whatsoever, while on the other hand i firmly believe that Jimmy Fallon is incredibly funny, entertaining, keeps me from being bored (i have insomnia) and is just flatout a great talk show host all around. Hell, he even made a guest appearance on some kid’s show on Nickelodeon called iCarly. Like i said earlier, replace Leno with Fallon and im happy.

  9. If they screw over Fallon like they did Conan, or if they change his show style for the worse I will be pissed! Be careful, Jimmy!

  10. Bring back Craig Ferguson!

    • What do you mean “Bring back Craig Ferguson”? He never left.

  11. I always preferred Letterman anyway (talking as a 29 year old Brit here so no affiliations to US ratings).

    Leno just never seemed funny to me, Fallon is the same, never heard of Ferguson and I only recently discovered Conan was actually funny thanks to interviews I saw on youtube last night with Seth MacFarlane and Simon Pegg and his review of Halo 4.

  12. move show back to nyc after 40 years in burbank? really ?
    this is dumb
    nothing against new york but it left for a reason
    nyc is news media etc
    bad move and nbc will continue to spiral down
    i love jimmy fallon but this makes no sense

  13. Jimmy Fallon bad show tonight no
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  14. Idiotic on so many levels. A-list guests are only going to do a NY show if they’re promoting a project. Leaving Los Angeles was a stupid move, as it also hurts the tourist industry. As far as Leno goes, good riddance. He’s stale and stabs people in the back. Fallon is NOT funny. His laugh is incredibly fake. He throws his head back and laughs at everything. Quite disingenuous. I no longer watch any late night talk shows. Ferguson used to be fresh and original, but even his gags have gotten old. He’s so busy trying to be clever that he interrupts his guests, bad listening skills. This was the opportunity for NBC to give the show to a woman, instead of the same ol’ boys’ club.

  15. So, 10 months later, does anyone care to explain WHY the The Tonight Show is moving to NY? Yes, we all know it’s moving, but WHY?

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