After a week of rumors, NBC finally made the announcement that everyone saw coming: Jimmy Fallon is taking over The Tonight Show. The announcement comes after Leno has criticized the network night after night in his monologues.
Said Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal:
“Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years. 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. We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1. 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.”
This isn’t the first time Leno left The Tonight Show. Conan O’Brien took over the show for a brief period in 2009-2010 before leaving the show. Leno, who felt forced out of the show, was given a prime time talk show that was mostly panned by critics. O’Brien went on a nationwide tour before starting his own late night show on TBS called Conan.
Personally, I still think Conan is the right person for The Tonight Show. Fallon, who has really good sketches on Late Night, just doesn’t seem ready to take on the big show. He can come across quite nervous at times, but I think if he is allowed to do the show like he does Late Night (including keeping house band The Roots), I think he can succeed, but will viewers tune in to see him over Letterman? That remains to be seen. As for what’s next for Late Night? Rumor has that the Lorne Michaels produced show will be hosted by SNL’s Seth Meyers.