This all might sound a bit familiar: after 22 years as host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno will officially be stepping down in 2014, and will be replaced by... Jimmy Fallon. But does anyone really think Jay Leno is gone for good?
The announcement, via NBC press release, also states that as part of The Tonight Show “transition,” the show will be moved to 30 Rock in New York, where it originally taped most of its iterations - including Johnny Carson’s until 1972. No announcement has been made as to Fallon’s replacement on Late Night, but many of the same rumors that predicted this change-up also say SNL's Seth Meyers is currently in the running.
Here are the kind words Leno had to say about Fallon’s late night promotion:
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.
And Jimmy’s response to his late night promotion:
I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.
Ever since Fallon took over Late Night from Conan O’Brien, he worked hard to craft a show that would be as enjoyable for him to host as it was for people to watch at home, with countless bits and sketches often gaining popularity as they're shared on the Internet. As someone to take over The Tonight Show, Fallon has the class, charm and energy it needs to woo the much more finicky 11:30pm crowd. But still – what about Leno?
In 2012, after having already returned to The Tonight Show as a result of the Conan O’Brien debacle, Jay Leno resigned his contract through May 2014 with a 50% pay cut, even though his show was still beating Letterman in the ratings. At that time, NBC was trying to cut costs to please their new owners, Comcast – but to Leno it was never about the money, as he famously says he’s never touched a penny of the money earned as host.
Instead, the coveted chair behind The Tonight Show desk is all he’s wanted – and for 22 years, he's had it. And now - while he's still on top - he’s leaving to go hang out in his garage? Anyone remotely familiar with Leno’s rise (and re-rise) in the world of Late Night will know that he simply isn’t one to kick back and relax in retirement. Perhaps he’ll simply move to another network?
Even though ABC, CBS and NBC are, essentially, already full of any needed late night programming, Fox still remains the one network without a late night staple. And what makes Fox an interesting choice for someone like Leno is their 10:00pm newscast, which would mean any late night show would air at 11:00pm - 30 minutes before The Tonight Show begins. However, like most things, only time will tell how this plays out.
Now, fans of Jimmy Fallon can celebrate the fact that he will, almost certainly, take over The Tonight Show in 2014. Let’s just hope he’ll be able to continue to do the same type of show that won him the opportunity.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno will end May 2014The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon premieres May 2014