The rumor mill churns once again that NBC is looking to replace Jay Leno at The Tonight Show. And the next person in line for the throne this time around is Jimmy Fallon the grammy-winning late night host and all around loveable guy.
We all know things didn’t go well last time the peacock network pulled this move with Conan O’Brien to keep the him on the network as an aging Leno was supposedly on his way out. Leno moved to 10pm before Conan and well, things just kinda fell apart in about 6 months. Ratings weren’t strong for Conan on The Tonight Show and The Jay Leno Show was a mess all around. NBC brass got spooked and hit reset on their big experiment putting Leno back on The Tonight Show and cut Conan a very large severance check to allow him to hit the road on tour and make a documentary.
But that was 2010 and a lot has changed since then. NBC brass that made those calls are out, Fallon has become a hit at late night and online, able to get everyone from Bruce Springsteen to The President to get in on the jokes. In addition, Leno’s ratings aren’t as strong with the coveted youth demographic and the recent round of budget cuts could signify NBC’s waning faith in Leno’s future. But the biggest factor in this is probably ABC’s recent move of Jimmy Kimmel Live to 11:30 timeslot to compete for the youth eyeballs is proving to pay off.
Insider reports are claiming that NBC is gearing up to announce in May that the 2013-14 television season will be Leno’s final one as the host of The Tonight Show and Fallon as the next in line.
This move makes even more sense than the one with Conan did 3 years ago because of Kimmel’s ability to find young viewers. The longer he sits in this position unopposed, the further ahead of the curve with the next generation of late night viewers.
When this rumor started up a few months back, Fallon joked, “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Dave and Conan, it’s that hosting this show is a one-way ticket to not hosting The Tonight Show.” So at least he’s in good spirits about that.
If this all ends up being true we wonder if Fallon will pick up shop and head West and will the East Coast heavy house band The Roots follow with him? For their presence on the show is just as integral to Fallon’s late night makeup as Fallon himself. If you think about the lion’s share of Fallon’s successes on the show, ?uestlove and co. have been a part of those bits just as much.