After weeks of rumors, NBC has confirmed that Jay Leno will be leaving the "Tonight" show next spring to make way for Jimmy Fallon as host. Leno also issued a release with the news. The network added that the program will be returning to New York with "Saturday Night Live" head honcho Lorne Michaels as producer.
The New York Times reports that the move will take place after the conclusion of NBC's coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. According to the Times, that timeframe was Leno's idea, despite recent reports that he was upset about being forced out.
Mr. Leno said he suggested, “If we really want to give him a good send-off, how about after the Olympics?” He said the Winter Games in February would give NBC the chance to promote the new host to big audiences and avoid more competitive start-up times like the summer. “ ‘The Tonight Show’ was No. 1 when I got it,” Mr. Leno said. “I’ve kept it No. 1 one for about 90 percent of my term here, and I would like to see Jimmy keep it at No. 1, which I’m sure he will.”
Deadline Hollywood notes that it's ironic that Fallon will replace Leno after the Winter Olympics, as that same event was used to relaunch Leno as "Tonight" show host in 2010 after a failed stint for Conan O'Brien.
Concern over ABC bumping Jimmy Kimmel up to the 11:35 p.m. slot, along with the possibility of CBS host David Letterman retiring soon, caused NBC to consider reshuffling its lineup to compete in the looming battle for younger viewers, according to an earlier Times report. There is no word yet on who will replace Fallon in his current later timeslot.
What do you think? Are you happy with the move?
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsKatie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.