It's Official: Jimmy Fallon Will Replace Jay Leno as Host of The Tonight Show in 2014

By Tim Surette

Apr 03, 2013

After 22 years of Headlines, that trademark snicker, and Kardashian jokes, Jay Leno, the very disputed king of late night, will step down from his position as host of NBC's iconic The Tonight Show next spring. Leno and NBC announced the news today via press release after weeks of speculation (and weeks of NBC denying it), confirming that Leno's time as the man who puts America to bed is nearing its end.

Taking over for Leno will be the current vice president of NBC's late-night lineup, Jimmy Fallon, host of the 12:30am Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Fallon has found success by embracing what the young kids call "the power of the internet," using short-form viral videos, memes, and Twitter to transform his late-night program into a fountain of shareable, easy-to-digest tidbits for those of us who have jobs and can't stay up late enough to watch him. (For more info, read this great article by my TV writer crush Laura Bennett on how Fallon has adapted.) Fallon's approach obviously appeals to NBC, who sees this style of late-night entertainment as the future, and in the face of ABC moving the hipper Jimmy Kimmel up to 11:35pm, probably thought, "the sooner the better." 

There has been no announcement of who will replace Fallon as his follow-up, but expect something soon (SNL's Seth Meyers is the rumored frontrunner.)

Leno's departure will take place at the end of his current contract; NBC said, "We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1." But that's obviously B.S., because it's also time for both sides to move on. NBC and Leno have had a rocky relationship, and the good days the two shared are long gone, as evidenced by Leno's recent jabs at the network in his nightly monologue. 

The thing I find most interesting here is that this should be huge news, but late-night television isn't as important as it used to be, at least in my house. I'd rather spend the hour catching up on my DVR's backlog or watching something on Adult Swim than hearing the today's news filtered through the brains of tired hacks who are desperate to pull out a punchline of any sort. So congratulations to Jimmy Fallon and farewell (or good riddance) to Jay Leno, but I'll be watching last week's Nashville instead. Call me when Louie gets a tryout.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • onionringlets Sep 23, 2013

    "Call me when Louie gets a tryout" - great reference to some great tv.

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 05, 2013

    Not that I don't like Fallon, but doesn't it seem a bit out of order for him to get Tonight this soon? I just don't feel like he's earned it yet. Letterman and Conan put in at least a decade or more. Letterman and Conan were much more established and had much more of an impact than Jimmy; who has only been a internet fueled blip on the timeline. This is happening too quickly and I feel like he needs to go at least six more years on "Late Night" to really have a resume worthy for an hour earlier.

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 05, 2013

    So who is the big winner here? Fallon? No, it's Lorne Michaels who now completely controls NBC Late Night. And all in the same building. Lorne never had this much control and he did it without anyone ever really noticing. Lorne has been in control of "Late Night" for two decades and most people probably had no idea. Carson Daly, watch out.

  • AndrewFoulke Apr 05, 2013

    ...So we're just supposed to pretend that the didn't try this once before with Conan?

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 04, 2013

    I don't understand why they're doing this again...Fallon will do worse than Leno because he's younger and less broad. Leno dominates young viewers; this is suprisingly not ever acknowledged. Dave will dominate. If they want to secure the future and lose viewers in the present, they should have stuck with Conan to begin with.

  • Huglyone Apr 04, 2013

    Leno "died" after what HE and NBC did to Conan O'brien so i don't even care what happens to him or to late night on NBC ...

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 05, 2013

    Even though it doesn't make much business sense, I can't help smile when thinking about what poetic justice this is for Carson, Letterman, and Conan. After pushing out Johnny, swindling Letterman, and sabatoging Conan it only seems right. And also if Leno goes to FOX then the viewer wins due to more choices including possibly Seth as Jimmy's successor.

  • Writerpatrick Apr 04, 2013

    It's the end of The Tonight Show. Although I haven't been watching it lately anyways, I just don't care for Fallon. He comes across as a network stooge.

    I do think Conan was screwed by NBC but I don't blame Leno for that. They tried to force Leno to quit the show before he was ready because they had to cater to Conan and made a mess of the whole thing that resulted in them loosing Conan to another network, just like they did with Letterman. NBC is doing a good job of creating it's own competition.

    I don't think Leno will be back for a talk show. I think he's getting tired of it. But I could see him hosting specials or game shows. I wouldn't be surprised if he even produces a sitcom. (I think he would be better at it then Conan.)

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 04, 2013

    I like Fallon but I agree he likes to suck up to everybody; especially Donald Trump. I've never seen him dislike anything. It makes him seem almost as fake as Leno the brown noser.

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 04, 2013

    The reason why Leno is to blame is because he kept telling Conan that he was going to retire for sure, in order to avoid hard feelings; Conan was unaware that he had been pushed out. Then Leno's primetime show destroyed Conan's lead in (10PM newscast) and as a result Leno prevented Conan from ever having a real shot (or reasonable amount of time) to establish his show. The truth is if Leno would have left for good and went somewhere else, Conan would still be hosting the Tonight Show.

  • carnival19 Apr 04, 2013

    Watch out Jimmy...........Jay will want it back 7 months after that!!

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 04, 2013

    Better get it in writing, Jimmy!

  • antdude Apr 04, 2013

    No kidding. :D

  • terminaltrip421 Apr 04, 2013

    I use hulu to watch these and kimmel via clips of segments i've grown fond of or look interesting. I skip all monologues, almost all interviews and the lamer sketches that they do.

  • antdude Apr 04, 2013

    I just watch whatever people share like on Reddit, VideoSift, etc.

  • gsager1 Apr 04, 2013

    I'm sure this will go well, with no drama whatsoever. These NBC people are professionals, and have an excellent track record of handling these transitions smoothly.
    Although, personally if I was Jimmy I wouldn't believe it until I was first asked to be a pallbearer at Leno's funeral.

  • mrjimmyjames Apr 05, 2013

    Jimmy might need Leno to be cremated instead.

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