After roughly a month of speculation, NBC’s “Tonight Show” succession plan is official: Jay Leno will end his 22 season “Tonight Show” run in Spring 2014 and he will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon.
NBC made the formal announcement on Wednesday (April 3) morning, wrapping up a lengthy period of scuttlebutt and rumors surrounding the network’s late-night programming crown jewel.
“Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years,” blurbs Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal. “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.”
Based on Burke’s additional press release statement, it sounds as if “spring” could be early next year.
“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1,” Burke adds. “Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time. I”m thrilled he will become the sixth host of ‘The Tonight Show” at exactly the right moment, in conjunction with our coverage of next year’s Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia.”
The Sochi Olympics will run from February 7 through February 23 next year, if you’re marking your calendar.
As expected, “The Tonight Show” is moving to New York City as part of the tradition and will be executive produced by Fallon’s old “Saturday Night Live” mentor Lorne Michaels.
In the release, Leno states, “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.”
Adds Fallon, “I”m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”
NBC says “Programming plans for the 12:35 a.m. (ET) time period currently are in development and will be announced soon,” but recent reports have linked Seth Meyers to the gig.
Regarding the “Tonight Show” gig, NBC’s press release says, “Leno has hosted ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’ since taking over the reins from television icon Johnny Carson in 1992.”
Actually, Leno has hosted “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” since March 2010, when he took over the reins from Conan O’Brien, who took over the reins from Jay Leno in 2009.