Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels Will Take over 'Tonight' Show
Pennington, Gail, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
NBC's latest "late-night war" ended almost before it had begun, with NBC's announcement Wednesday that Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno next spring as host of "The Tonight Show."
NBC acted quickly after rumors of the change gained momentum, leading to speculation that Leno was being forced out again. In 2009, the decision to turn "Tonight" over to Conan O'Brien and give Leno a 9 p.m. (Central) weeknight slot was famously disastrous.
Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal, flew to Los Angeles March 24 to discuss potential exit scenarios with Leno, the entertainment trade website Variety reported.
The formal announcement came after the network signed Fallon to a contract extension, unofficially reported Tuesday. The show will move to New York, with "Saturday Night Live" veteran Lorne Michaels as executive producer, when Fallon takes over after the Winter Olympics. "Tonight" was based in New York until Johnny Carson took it to Los Angeles in 1972.
NBC made the retirement of Leno, 62, the headline of its announcement, saying he would "wrap up what will be 22 years of headlining the iconic late-night show in spring 2014."
And by the way: "NBC also announced today that Jimmy Fallon, 38, now host of NBC's 'Late Night,' will transition into new hosting duties on 'The Tonight Show' franchise after Leno concludes his successful run."
No successor to Fallon was named. "Programming plans for the 12:35 a.m. (ET) time period currently are in development and will be announced soon," NBC said. One rumored replacement: Seth Meyers of "SNL."
In the announcement, Leno was quoted as saying, "Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy. …