It's Official: Jimmy Fallon to Replace Jay Leno as Tonight Show Host in Spring 2014

Jimmy Fallon Replacing Jay LenoNBC confirmed the worst kept secret in Hollywood on Wednesday, announcing that current Late Night frontman Jimmy Fallon will succeed Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show in Spring 2014.

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As part of the transition, The Tonight Show will, as expected, return to its original 30 Rock home in New York and will be exec-produced by Saturday Night Live‘s Lorne Michaels (aka Fallon’s EP on Late Night.)

“Congratulations Jimmy,” Leno said in a statement. “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.”

Added Fallon: “I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”

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The announcement caps a tense couple of months between NBC and Leno, who had been taking jabs at the Peacock’s ratings woes and even called network execs “snakes” in recent monologues (alleged retaliation for the then-forthcoming Tonight switch). The network attempted to squelch the escalating controversy (and avoid a repeat of the 2009 Leno/Conan O’Brien PR debacle) by releasing a cheeky video earlier this week featuring Leno and Fallon poking fun at the situation.

NBC no doubt paid a stiff financial penalty to get Leno to vacate his throne seven months early (his contract wasn’t due to expire until September 2014), but it will likely be worth it: Fallon’s Tonight Show debut will coincide with the network’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

“Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years,” said NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. “His long reign as the highest-rated late-night host is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to his viewers and to NBC.”

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No official word on who will replace Fallon at Late Night, but sources confirm SNL‘s Seth Meyers remains the odds-on-favorite for the job. NBC would only say, “Programming plans for the 12:35 a.m.  time period currently are in development and will be announced soon.”

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114 Comments
  1. Hello, bad idea. I actually had a dream where Conan went back to Late Night. Max was there. Freak out if this unlikely thing comes true.

    • Bob says:

      That’s why TBS was so quick to extend Conan’s contract until 2015. Not that he would do it, but stranger things have happened in TV land.

    • A says:

      whoa! really? i don’t watch either show cause they’re on late but jimmy fallon? why not conan? i’ve seen a couple of his shows on tbs he’s funny. i have a feeling it might not go well. leno is still a good act where he is now………… though i did heard the ratings are dropping i say conan should go back.

      • Esaul says:

        I’d love for Conan to return. But yeah, TBS renewed his contract. And I’m sure he’s happier there where he’s better treated. He worked hard at NBC for 17 years to be screwed over like that. I love Jimmy Fallon, but man that must leave a bitter taste for Conan. Well not really, since he had such a great send off about how he hates cynicism.

  2. Esaul says:

    Disappointed in this.

    • Chad Bonsack says:

      NBCLATENIGHT Get #Danieltosh for a new late Night Show he already has 8 million fans. Trust me he would be Brilliant. He has a quick witted humor and he has a bit of Letterman in him. If Don’t grab him now he will be there soon. Chad Bonsack

  3. I hope HBO makes a sequel to The Late Shift.

  4. Lana says:

    Yeah, sure. Maybe Jimmy should have chatted with Conan before agreeing to this deal.

    • Esaul says:

      I find it interesting Jimmy made this play, especially since he remained relatively neutral when the Leno/Conan fiasco ensued. I’m disappointed in Jimmy, but also happy for him at the same time. :/

  5. Chloe says:

    “We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1.”

    What a load of crap! Carson made the choice to step down & was always royally treated by NBC [as well he should have been]. Jay is being pushed out – AGAIN!! I never watched The Tonight Show before Jay took over and I won’t be watching after he goes. Whatever you think of Leno, he has brought great ratings to NBC & they have treated him like dirt for years. First they debated to remove him & replace him with Letterman, then they shoved him out the door for Conan. Now they’re shoving him out again. NBC should be ashamed of themselves, but I’m sure they’re not.

    • Bob says:

      NBC didn’t debate about replacing him with Letterman. They debated which one would take over after Carson announced he was retiring. Carson wanted Letterman. Leno hid in a closet and eavesdropped on an executive meeting discussing the change. Go read your Late Night history.

    • Alichat says:

      I seriously doubt that Leno has been mistreated by NBC. If anything, they have kowtowed to him for too long. When Conan took over, Leno had known for 5 YEARS that the transition was coming. He did nothing. He could have gone to Fox and started a show there. He could have approached TBS and started their late night programming. He had 5 years to get his crap in order, and make sure his crew had jobs (the latter being one of his excuses for why he did that craptastic 10pm move.) Instead he pressured NBC to give him that 10pm slot……such a terrible idea…..then jumped at the chance to take the show back over. I have zero sympathy for the man. Whatever is happening to him now, he deserves it. Karma.

      • Jane says:

        Why should he have done any of those things when it was his show! Carson knew in advance also but was just nasty. I will never understand why people think he stole it from Letterman but when NBC did the same thing to him and tried to give it to Conan, Conan was the hero and Leno the jerk. If anything Conan tried to steal the show from him. Leno just tried to do the best he could for his crew and NBC and was vilified. Leno has never been given the respect he is due. Shame on NBC.

        • Alichat says:

          It wasn’t and isn’t his show. It wasn’t Carson’s show either. The Tonight Show is an NBC property, and it has been since 1954. NBC chooses the host. They didn’t have to renew Leno’s contracts all these years if they didn’t want to. NBC had every right to replace Carson with either Letterman or Leno, and to replace Leno with Conan. They have every right now to replace Leno with Fallon. It is not Leno’s show. And why should he have done any of those things? Because it would have been the smarter, more mature, and classier thing to do. Carson might not have wanted to retire, but he did it with dignity and class. Leno knew in 2004 that they wanted Conan to take over The Tonight Show in 2009. Everybody knew. It was formally announced. Leno had 5 years to come up with another show or another gig. NBC gave him plenty of time to get things in order…..way more time than Carson had. If Leno wanted to do the best for his crew, he should have gotten another show lined up in the 5 years he had to plan. That whole “doing the best for my crew” was complete and utter bull. And NBC didn’t paint Leno as a jerk…..Leno did that himself.

    • davej says:

      So here’s the real question for me – where does Jay go next? While his tweet says he’s going to go play with his cars, SOMEBODY is bound to make him an offer of a late night show going up against Fallon. Just a question of who.

    • marce says:

      I agree 100%. Fallon is so sophomoric. Great on fb. but Leno was really funny and gave a lot
      of people chances to be shown on his show. All the jobs and businesses will be hurt again in ca.. will not watch Fallon.

  6. Engbunny says:

    I hope Jimmy keeps Thank you notes and Puppies!  I will miss Jay but I think Jimmy will do a good job too. Anyone is better than Letterman!

  7. marge says:

    As long as they don’t screw with Jimmy like they did Conan, I’m all about this! CONGRATS to Jimmy :)

  8. slizabeth says:

    Jimmy will do very well with more people able to tune in for the earlier slot. I just feel awful for Jay Leno. I hope he gets some kind of closure.

    • Esaul says:

      Remember who we’re talking about here. Jay’s been at the Tonight Show for 22 years. He showed no remorse for screwing Conan. I used to respect the man, but I don’t feel bad that he’s being replaced (again). At least the first time it was more of a mutual decision compared to now. But hey, karma’s a bitch as they say.

      • kevinlewis says:

        will he stay retired i say just another ploy to screw another comedian. lost all respect for leno when he stole the show from conan because he couldn,t make it in primetime…LOSER.

        • Esaul says:

          Yeah, I agree. I used to admire Leno until that happened. I wish that Jay at least spoke up for Conan, said something, anything, then I’d be okay, even if Conan lost his show still. But all NBC and Leno were concerned about was their pockets. Cheaper to buy Conan out than to keep Leno. But now he’s leaving again.

      • Engbunny says:

        Conan failed on his own. If he had gotten the ratings, they wouldn’t have brough Leno back. Sorry but you can’t blame Jay for that debacle. That was the network.

        • Esaul says:

          No. Lead-ins are a huge thing when it comes to scheduling. NBC got greedy when they decided to keep Leno and give him a 10 PM show. No one watched. Affiliates threatened to boycott. I’m not blaming Leno for his show failing. I’m blaming Leno for his character. He could’ve done more than what he did. And it took Leno some time when he first started his show to get the ratings he achieved. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It was cheaper to buy out Conan. And Leno sat back and did nothing.

          • TV Gord says:

            You are RIGHT ON bringing up Leno and his character. He has done so many underhanded and cowardly things to hang onto this job like Pope, that it’s impossible to list them all on a message board. People who are interested should read Bill Carter’s books on the late night wars, and even Jimmie Walker’s recent biography takes Leno to task for his slimy behavior.

          • twhiting9276 says:

            I’m blaming Leno for his show failing. He didn’t try. He didn’t WANT to try

        • twhiting9276 says:

          Conan didn’t “fail” per se.
          Leno failed to bring in the bacon, and they had to do something with him.
          In the end, it was cheaper to fire Conan than leno

    • Playhouse says:

      He got a second shot at the job. I’d say he got his closure.

  9. James says:

    What does this mean for The Real Housewives of Late Night?

  10. Polly says:

    so this means that nbc has gathered the 15+ millions ready for fallon when leno comes back in october 2014?

    • Bob says:

      There won’t be any “coming back” for Leno this time. Remember, this is NBComcast now, NOT General Electric and their frightened executives. Comcast makes decisions and sticks with them (good or bad).

  11. debeliah1012 says:

    I am excited for this, I think Jimmy is hilarious and his show has a lot of energy. I didn’t think Conan was a good fit and was not surprised that his hosting was unsuccessful. I am excited to be able to actually watch Jinmy as his current show is just too late.

    • Annie says:

      I agree. Conan doesn’t have the same audience as Leno or Jimmy. I like Leno, but I’m happy for Jimmy too. They are funny; Letterman is not.

  12. cgrealms says:

    Sometimes it’s like NBC’s actively trying to be in last place.

  13. Babybop says:

    As long as they don’t try to change his show. I hope he doesn’t lose the weirdness to try and appease the older demo.

    • Bob says:

      Since they’re letting him keep Lorne Michaels as the executive producer, nothing should really change. Lorne can go fight the battles with the NBComcast executives.

      • jimbo says:

        That’s what they said about Conan moving from Late Night to the Tonight Show. While he was as edgy as ever the bits were toned down a lot.

  14. Cindy says:

    I like Jay and Jimmy. Good luck to both.

  15. Tina Fey should definitely be a front runner to replace Fallon as host of Late Night in 2014 and perhaps Seth Meyers should stay on SNL if the series reaches 40.

  16. Jeanine Mennemeyer says:

    I’m very happy to hear this – as long as Leno actually keeps his word this time and doesn’t do to Fallon what he did to Conan.

  17. Ezzy Klein says:

    Jimmy Fallon is NOT funny. His “humor” is more for the college frat house based… NBC’s just doing this because they are afraid of Kimmel. This so called “experiment” will fail and when it does who gets screwed first Fallon or NBC?

    Conan knew he was screwed at had fun at NBC’s expense to show it. Fallon on the other hand is NBC';s lapdog so if he gets screwed he still has a job at 12:35 and w/o Leno NBC becomes a creek w/o a paddle.

    • CountryQueen says:

      I agree that they are doing this because they are afraid of Kimmel. But, as a 44 year old female (who was never in a sorority, let alone a frat ;) finds Jimmy to be VERY funny. Try to remember humor is subjective.

    • jimbo says:

      Yeah, I don’t find Jimmy really funny as well. Most of the time his humor is just awkward and sometimes even painful to watch. Still, he’s a genuine guy with lots of talent. Comedy may not be his strongest one though.

    • Ms Erikkah says:

      I am in total agreement with Ezzy

  18. H Foster says:

    Leno was the only program i watched on NBC . Wish Fallon had gone to cable anywhere else then NBC. There canceling programs and lack of understanding of the viewing audience has left me come to one conclusion to boycott them Leno will be missed but no forgotten

  19. Shein Die says:

    karma! … ha

  20. Bob says:

    In related news, the Fox Network has just announced they’re returning to Late Night television in 2014. Hmm…wonder who they could get for a host to bring in big ratings???

    • mondosalvo says:

      Fox won’t touch Leno. He’s damaged goods.

      • jimbo says:

        Fox executive reading your comment: “Yeah man, but better than no goods at all!”

        • mondosalvo says:

          Well, Chevy Chase is free now. Maybe they could try that whole thing again.

          • TV Gord says:

            Hahaha. Yeah…

            Fox is too “young” for Leno. They will go for a younger talent (hopefully, a woman, for a change). Leno’s days in late night are coming to an end. Remember, Arsenio returns this fall. While I personally think Hall will not succeed, can you imagine Arsenio and Jay battling it out for the 54-to-death demo? (Now that Dave has outlasted Jay, I expect to hear his retirement announcement soon, too.)

    • Sarabi says:

      Seth MacFarlane?

    • Ezzy says:

      Is this a joke because I doubt Seth would ever do this seeing he’s already got a full plate..

  21. Tom says:

    So what is the Guinness world record for consecutively making the same bad decision? NBC has a shot at that title. Maybe it’s time to bring Ann Curry back to Today.

  22. KD says:

    I don’t understand all the Leno hate. Conan had his chance and the ratings dropped. It was a business decision to go back to Jay Leno. I wish Jimmy Fallon all the best.

    • Esaul says:

      Here, I’ll give you the FULL story.

      NBC got greedy. The end.

      But seriously, it isn’t Conan’s fault. Seven months isn’t enough time to produce ratings. And it was due to the poor lead in…which was…who? Jay Leno at 10 PM. No one tuned in to him, so no one tuned into local news, which meant no one tuned into Conan. I don’t blame Leno for that aspect. But he could’ve handled the situation with more grace.

      • CountryQueen says:

        Yep, it was the dip in the local news that really got Jay ousted from his primetime gig. People were not watching and the local news ratings were dipping. Where I live my honey and I dislike the late NBC news team, so we would only tune in if we were watching an NBC show and felt compelled to watch a few minutes before switching off (we never watched the entire thing). So our local NBC news went from getting us a viewers a couple of times to absolutely never, and, obviously, we were not the only ones. Of course, we could launch into a debate about getting better local news coverage around the country for NBC, but that’s another conversation. :)

        • TV Gord says:

          The dip in Jay’s 10pm ratings caused people to tune elsewhere, and the networks that benefitted from Leno’s failure saw increases in their late local news ratings. Many of them went to shows on CBS, which meant they saw improvement in its affiliates local newscasts, and consequently, a boost for Letterman. That’s what did Conan in (along with stupid and impatient executives at NBC). It all traces back to Jay taking the 10pm show, instead of retiring gracefully to the road as a stand-up, which he always said (disinguously, it seems to have turned out) was his first love and what he would always go back to after The Tonight Show ended for him. Ah, the many faces of Jay.

          • *YAWN* you are sooooo predictable.... says:

            Well, I’ll take Jay any day over lecherous Letterman and his many sins…but after seeing you scurry place to place to post your hate–er, “opinion”–you might want to pace yourself…

          • Jay says:

            Don’t call him Jay, that’s my name. Call that aging hack Leno! And Fallon’s going to do great because he’s much more likable than Leno.

          • TV Gord says:

            You’re just as predictable, YAWN. The difference is you cowardly hide behind different names, whereas I have the courage of my convictions, and I’m not afraid to use my real name.

          • Yawn, (and you are still predictable...) says:

            LOL, really, TV Gord? Or is it Deacon, or is it, really, how many names have you gone through at TV Guide? You tend to pop up every time Jay Leno is mentioned, eager to repeat your insight on how things REALLY went down. Because, after all you KNOW every little detail because you were there, right? I’m calling BS, you love to throw around the “cowardly” word, but sweetie, it takes one to know one… Here’s a thought, sit on it and rotate.

  23. Pam says:

    I miss Johnny!

  24. Mike (@A_mah_zing_8584) says:

    Another brilliant idea from the think tank at NBC. Good job @@!

  25. Laura says:

    Different strokes for different folks. I like Jimmy, and can’t stand Leno. Too arrogant-sounding and annoying for my tastes. I wonder what this will mean for Letterman and Kimmel.

  26. M says:

    Not a fan of Fallon. Love Leno.

  27. et al. says:

    Leno had a bright future ahead of him playing to half-empty casino showrooms.

  28. mondosalvo says:

    Who are all these people playing Cap’n-Save-A-Leno? He says this time feels right to leave. Well, 2009 felt right too. And, really, about 2000 felt right. Leno is terrible, unfunny, and two-faced.

  29. Alice Keenan says:

    I think that Jay Leno is a prime example of what this COUNTRY is all about today.
    If a person’s age is over 40 look out- times are changing… no matter what talent you have…I wonder what Jonny Carson would say about this society where younger is
    better…so long Jay…and keep your head up!

  30. nancy says:

    all I have to say is good luck to Jimmy…maybe it will actually happen this time

  31. Truth says:

    Out with the crap, in with the more crap. Fallon is terrible, but Leno is also terrible. Lose lose situation they got themselves into.

  32. Ram510 says:

    Ok now that we got this mess all sorted out can NBC please renew Guys With Kids?! Let Jimmy keep his show

  33. Tom Whiting says:

    until Leno gets tired of retirement, claims it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and decides he wants to come back and host the Tonight Show, AGAIN.

    I just lost all respect for Fallon

  34. Johnny Carson says:

    Does anyone under the age of 60 even know who Jay Leno is? It’s time to put that a-hole out to pasture. How many comedians has he screwed over for personal gain.
    I gotta be honest, I didn’t even know he was still on TV, I’m too busy with Fallon, Kimmel, and Conan!!!
    Awesome news!!!

  35. JASon says:

    Jimmy has been blowing up virally with all his cutting edge impressions and musical sketches. Even winning a Grammy for Best Comedy Album! He has the potential to be the King of Late Night while Leno will just get staler. NBC is making the right move.

  36. Tom Charles says:

    This will last about six months till Leno gets jealous again and decides he wants the show back

  37. Courtney says:

    Sorry I’m an idiot, but can someone tell me exactly what this means? Does it mean Jimmy will no longer be with The Roots and Higgins, etc? I really like what his show is now = (.

  38. Georgia says:

    Jay is KING. Fox doesn’t have a late night talk show. They have local news at 10 PM and then it’s reruns. If they were smart, they’d offer Jay a deal and premiere a Late Night Talk Show. He’ll beat everyone else in the ratings as he does now. Fingers crossed.

    • TV Gord says:

      Fox already has plans to jump back into late night, and something tells me the way they court the younger demos, they’re not about to offer the show to a guy in his 60s.

    • Jack Paar says:

      What has Jay Leno done in the past 10 years for you to consider him KIng. Well, besides screw over Conan O’Brien and steal material from Howard Stern.
      Jay needs to retire and go away. Anyone who listened to him when he was relevent is either dying off or sleeping when he’s on.
      Time for the new breed of late night. Their names are Conan, Jimmy, and Jimmy!!!!

  39. S. says:

    I’ve been here before, and I could care less. I love Conan, always have. Stopped watching Leno the moment he claimed the Tonight Show again. Don’t watch Fallon, don’t find him funny. Right now, all I watch on the Peacock is Community and Revolution, and once those are gone I doubt I’ll be back.
    NBC sucks in more ways than this. They’ve gone downhill since Friends, and they’re crashing and burning. I don’t no who’s in charge of programming but at this point they could hire a monkey to pick piece of paper out of a hat and still do ten times better.

  40. AntiquatedFlatulence says:

    Say what you will about Leno but I think NBC is making a big mistake AGAIN. No wonder they’er in such sorry shape. Look at their lineup, very few really good shows on the air anymore. The NBC executives don’t have enough common sense NOT to wipe their nose right after wiping their butts with the same tissue. The CBS schedule is way better.

  41. Martin says:

    I don’t enjoy watching Fallon.

  42. Sarabi says:

    As some posters have previously said, Joel McHale would be a more suitable replacement for Fallon than Seth Meyers. Oh, well.

  43. HawgWyld says:

    I feel oddly compelled to check from time to time and make sure this awful move could still be true. Fallon is about as funny as cancer, the unemployment rate or those awful Capital One commercials featuring Fallon and that money-hating baby. Replacing Leno with that clod will give a boost to Leno’s legacy, but that’s about the only good thing that will come out of it.

  44. Donovan C. says:

    I don’t understand why people still state which shows they watch based on their timeslots. DVR and TiVo have changed the way most people watch TV. Timeslots are meaningless. I watch my Coco and my Jimmy Fallon whenever it is convenient for me. Jimmy is more talented than Leno IMO.

  45. Debbie Romero says:

    Jimmy Fallon is not entertaining at all. Seen a couple of his shows and had to turn it. I hope FOX pick up Leno.

  46. Homer Simpson says:

    At least we don’t have to watch Ricky humping his bass every time the camera is pointed at him.

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