Is NBC planning on replacing Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon after this season?

Jay Leno

I’ve never been a Jay Leno fan, and I think he’s been a terrible excuse for a comedian from his very first television performance as a guest of Johnny Carson’s on “The Tonight Show,” but for most of this guy’s career, I tried to live and let live even though I just don’t get his appeal. Then Jay played an unforgivable role in the ousting of Conan O’Brien from NBC, and the financal fallout to NBC was nearly as painful as the embarrassing way they dealt with the aftermath. Conan has bounced back with TBS, and Jay has gone back to boosting the ratings with the older viewing crowd, but NBC is starting to realize that Jimmy Kimmel is a serious contender with the 18-49 crowd. Their rumored solution? Get rid of Leno and bring Jimmy Fallon into his spot. Will it actually happen? NBC says no, but here’s the insider story from Hollywood Reporter:

Jimmy Fallon

The network says categorically no, but two high-level industry sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that NBC is moving toward a May announcement that the 2013-14 television season will be the last for Leno as host of the long-running late-night show. Sources expect the network to move Jimmy Fallon from his Late Night spot into the coveted 11:35 time slot with a soft launch during the summer of 2014 before a formal fall kickoff.

A Leno rep says, “We do not speculate on rumor.” Whether the network finally executes the Tonight transition plan remains to be seen. Anyone with even a passing sense of Leno’s personality knows that the hardworking comic would be reluctant to leave his perch, especially before his rival at CBS, David Letterman, announces his retirement. Leno and Letterman are both signed through 2014.

Sources believe the network will bring in Fallon partly out of concern about the competition on ABC, which moved younger-skewing Jimmy Kimmel to the 11:35 time slot in January. “The more time Jimmy Kimmel is in that slot, the more the young audience goes that way, the harder it is for Jimmy [Fallon] to keep that audience,” says a source familiar with the network’s thinking.

Leno’s Tonight still performs well for NBC, regularly besting his late-night rivals. But Kimmel is competitive in the 18-49 demo. “Kimmel has done extremely well,” a network veteran says, adding that he is unaware of any contemplated Leno move. “Jay wins overall, but on any given night, it’s neck-and-neck in 18-49. I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution [in Fallon.]”

Comcast, which owns NBC, in August imposed layoffs at Tonight. At the time, Leno took a big pay-cut from his reported $30 million salary.

NBC could also be concerned that if Letterman does retire in 2014, CBS would be looking for a replacement, potentially opening the door to a bare-knuckles battle for Fallon that could mirror a previous tussle involving Conan O’Brien. In 2004, then-NBC head Jeff Zucker promised the then-Late Night host he would inherit The Tonight Show in 2009 as part of his deal to re-up with the network. But when NBC installed O’Brien at Tonight and moved Leno to 10 p.m., the strategy backfired, leading to an embarrassing feud and a costly 2010 settlement with O’Brien, who now hosts a show on TBS.

[From Hollywood Reporter]

Jimmy Fallon’s definitely a better choice than Leno if NBC wants to shuffle their demographic for advertising purposes. The move makes sense, and Fallon is very likeable and enthusiastic even if he plays it safe for the vast majority of his onscreen moments. If anything, I’d like to see Jay Leno and his classic car collection ride off into the sunset at the closest opportunity. He’s just not funny, and he seems like an incredibly selfish person after what he did to help push Conan out the door.

Jay Leno

Jay Leno

Jimmy Fallon

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN

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34 Responses to “Is NBC planning on replacing Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon after this season?”

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  1. Ranunculus says:

    Sorry but Jimmy Fallon is the worst choice. He is an ordinary interviewer, he has no wit and his jokes are try hard and beyond meh. They should ask Craig Ferguson to do it.

    • BB says:

      Jimmy Fallon is horrible and he has never been funny. I don’t understand how he got a late night show!

    • j.eyre says:

      I think to call him an ordinary interviewer is generous.

      • EscapedConvent says:

        I think so too. Any time I have seen him interview anyone, he has sounded very awkward & dull as dishwater.

    • yoyo says:

      Jimmy is definitely the heir to Leno’s throne:
      -Grade A kiss*ss
      -Laughs at HIS OWN JOKES like a d*ck
      -Jokes are NEVER funny
      -Horrible interviewer

      Yeah, call him mini-Leno

      The only thing he can pull off sometime (and usually it’s when he’s in the background and manager to not giggle like an idiotic little girl) is some of the performance numbers. To wit “All I want for Christmas ” with Mariah Carey and office supplies (or was it school instruments?) either way, Mariah and the Roots knocked it out of the park. He was just a by stander.

  2. dcypher1 says:

    Jimmy fallon sucks. Conan rules nbc missed out on him. He would have been a better replacement cus hes actually funny. Jimmy should watch out for jay and say to him no taking backsies. He might do what he pulled on conan on jimmy. Jimmys not funny. Like triumph would say for me to poop on lol.

  3. Meow Mix says:

    I don’t care who they get but please make Jay go away. He’s an incredible douche.

  4. Inconceivable! says:

    The only time I’ve ever watched The Tonight Show regularly was with Conan. NBC did Conan wrong. Ratings may have been lower than NBC wanted to start, but he barely had a chance to tweak his show and find his groove for that new audience & time slot.

    • lucy2 says:

      I think ratings were also lower because Leno’s TS fans didn’t have to transition to Conan – they could watch Leno at 10! Stupidest move.

  5. MG says:

    Can’t stand Jay Leno!!!!

  6. LoLLa says:

    Okay first I have to say I don’t like any of these guys. All of them are boring IMO. But that being said NBC executives are some of the dumbest MFs out there. Can someone tell me how Leno forced out Conan exactly when it was Conan who inked a deal to force out Leno. Around 2004 Conan said he would walk from NBC if they didn’t give him the Tonight Show and then when 2009 came around Jay was still No. 1 in the ratings. Conan was given the show anyway and he couldn’t deliver ratings, especially against Kimmel and Letterman still in the game. So the network had to give Leno the show back to get back in the ratings #1 spot, which he quickly did.

    Can anyone tell me exactly how it was Jay’s fault that Conan demanded he get the show and then not get ratings. NBC offered Conan his show back at midnight to compete with Kimmel who at that time was at midnight too and he said no and walked and took a huge payout I might add (NBC had to pay him to leave he was losing that much money!). Anyone who has seen the movie the Late Shift knows how stupid NBC is. They just won’t face that when Leno and Letterman are gone all the ratings will go the Kimmel and their late night reign will be over. There is nothing they can do about it. Jimmy F is nice enough, but he can’t compete with ABC.

    But still I don’t get all the Jay hate. He plays to middle america on his show. Yeah, it’s pandering but that’s why he’s won the ratings game this long. I don’t like him, but these guys are all overpaid egomaniacs and I don’t get why people are acting like any of them are any better than the next guy. It’s just business, everyone in the public just took it so personally I don’t understand it.

    • Feebee says:

      Did you miss everything when it went down?

      This is how I saw it. Conan was offered the Tonight Show because NBC didn’t want to lose him. Then they cut his legs off by putting Jay Leno on 90 minutes before him every night. So instead of getting a younger audience watching, say an interesting program before the local news and then Conan, they put on a bomb that even the affiliates complained about. So then they fired Conan for their mistake. This action is seen in the real world all the time. The boss errs but it’s his subordinate that gets the can. People can relate.

      Kimmel was on at a time diff of 35 minutes so he was never a direct competitor to the Tonight Show or the Late Show at the time.

      None of the hosts are particularly good interviewers but that’s by-the-by.

    • Bijlee says:

      +1 I don’t get why people took it so personally either.

    • Anne says:

      Well said!

      Apparently Jay is funny and raunchy but in stand up, tones it down for TV, even David Letterman says Jay is one of the funniest stand ups.

      I must be in the minority, I really like Jimmy Fallon and think he is a great choice to take over the tonight show. While I like Jimmy Kimmel, I find him to be kinda catty and mean spirited, not what I am looking for in a late night comedic talk show format.

      • fritanga says:

        Um, I’ve seen Leno’s stand up act, and he is definitely no funnier than he is on air. Yeah, he uses four-letter words and dirty jokes, but that doesn’t mean any of them are well-used.

    • Seagulls says:

      Don’t lump all of “middle America” in with all the nincompoops who think Leno isn’t funny. The Midwest has some of the best humor in the country.

      • Frannie says:

        I don’t think middle america = midwest. Middle american means exactly that: middle lower class of a certain age, class, gender, consumer habits, education level, political attitudes, whatever, america that is addicted to the middle of the road don’t rock the boat cr*p that Jay dishes out every night.

  7. Simmy says:

    After the Conan debacle, I hope Jimmy gets an airtight deal.

  8. BW says:

    For years, I thought Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel were the same person.

    • hoya_chick says:

      HAHAHA BW me too! I find neither of them funny or interesting and if I hadn’t gotten into celeb gossip I still wouldn’t be able to tell them apart!

      I am more of a David Letterman person. I rarely watch any of those shows but if I had to choose I’d choose Dave. I hate NBC, they suck. I’d take Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert over anyone in the Tonight Show spot.

      Jay Leno isn’t funny in the least bit and his chin and douchy behavior are a huge turn off.

  9. Jessica says:

    I don’t watch any of the late night talk shows so I don’t give a crap who is hosting what and in which time slot. What I cannot understand is people who have these well-publicized obsessions, like Jay Leno has with cars. It’s so annoying that it is what he’s known for in addition to being the Tonight Show host. OK – he collects cars and he’s rich as f*&k so he can afford his indulgences. Please drive away and take your parade of ugly cars with you, dick.

  10. Auruor says:

    Better keep another job on the back burner, Jimmy, just in case the network/Jay change their minds again…

  11. Itsa Reallyme says:

    I love, love, LOVE Jimmy Fallon. He’s def. one of my very favorite celebs. I’d love it if his show came on earlier so I could watch it more often.

  12. Reece says:

    Jimmy is a safe middle of the road Tonight Show choice.
    Whatever they do it doesn’t matter, I’ll still flip between Conan and The Daily Show.

  13. TheOneAndOnlyOnly says:

    One thing i will say about all of them is that more often than not they have musical guests on that aren’t pop; Leno had a band on a few nights ago called the Mavericks – very good; and Jimmy has a lot a great guitarists sitting in with the roots; I just tune in to the monologues and then check out the musical acts – celebrity interviews, if you can call them that, are cliches I skip.

  14. fritanga says:

    God, I hope so. Leno is an unfunny douche. His time was up years ago, but he did everything in his power to stay in front of the cameras despite the obvious fact that everyone was so, so tired of him.

    Bring on Fallon! He may be weird but he’s a thousand times funnier and more modern than that old fart Leno.

    • A twenty-something's opinion says:

      Tbh I only watch & find to be funny are Conan, Colbert and Occasionally the Daily Show (thank you DVR).
      Even though I do not find Fallon (or Leno) funny, I’d hate to see another debacle over the Tonight Show w/ Fallon in the middle. I hope, if true, Fallon has learned from the past… Personally after what happened to Letterman and esp. Conan, I do not believe Leno will leave willingly. Leno will sabotage anyone to host that damn show. I hate Leno for the roles he plays in the 2 previous Late Night Wars!
      Here what confounds me: Leno only has been back as host of TTS for 3 yrs and still is beating Letterman and Kimmel in overall ratings. NBC is a 5th place network, so why risk a sure overall ratings win for the younger generations who do not watch conventional tv as much anymore?
      Since neither leno or fallon is funny, it won’t change my late night tv viewing habits 😄.

  15. Agnes says:

    Jimmy Fallon sucks. The only time he managed to be somewhat amusing was when he was reading Tina Fey’s material.

  16. Kim says:

    I love Jimmy Fallon he is sweet, anti Kimmel

  17. msmerlin says:

    Fallon seems like a really nice person, and I like the commercials he does; his impressions are great! But his show is just a snoozefest. He is not like Conan, thank goodness, because Fallon seems to not have a mean bone in his body, whereas Conan delights in putting people down, much like Letterman. I’d rather watch Leno than the others, because he lets his guests shine and builds them up, rather than making the show all about him and putting down his guests. I’m guessing that Leno has too many manners for today’s insulting brand of comedy.

  18. Lady LaLa says:

    Leno!!!!! Is that the only shirt you own???????

  19. apsutter says:

    Jay sucks so hard. He’s the epitome of a mediocre comedian who takes glory in mediocre to win the hearts of people with no taste everywhere. I’m currently reading “The War For Late Night” for one of my classes and it’s a great book and so full of insight as to what happened during the Conan/Leno debacle. What these guys never seem to understand is perfectly summed up by Jerry Seinfeld at the end of the book. They all thought they were inheriting this huge entity “The Tonight Show.” But really viewers dont look at it the same way. We dont call it the tonight show or the late show, we say Leno or Letterman or Conan. NBC broke the #1 rule of television viewing, that people are watching it for familiarity and out of habit and old people don’t like there shows being messed with lol