NBC have confirmed Jay Leno will step down from The Tonight Show to be replaced by Late Night host Jimmy Fallon in February 2014.
Leno already retired from The Tonight Show once before and, infamously, handed the reigns to (then host of Late Night) Conan O’Brien for a few months before he returned to Tonight after The Jay Leno Show (his new programme that aired in primetime – 10pm – every weeknight on NBC) wasn’t doing the business for NBC, and ousted Conan to basic cable channel TBS.
This latest retirement announcement seems to be more final and Jay said in a statement “Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage”.
The Huffington Post reports “The network did not mention O’Brien’s stint as the “Tonight Show” host in its press release about the Fallon transition, instead claiming that Leno has hosted “The Tonight Show” since 1992″.
As part of the transition, The Tonight Show will move back to its original home of New York City when Fallon takes over. The Huffington Post says “The show will be taped at 30 Rock in New York, the first time the show has been taped there since Johnny Carson left in 1972”.
Fallon has been host of Late Night since 2009 when Conan originally moved to Tonight. Jimmy has steadily gained a huge fan base amongst young audiences – something NBC is keen to pursue in the ratings. It’s thought his house band The Roots will follow him to Tonight. Lorne Michaels will continue to produce for Jimmy on the new show alongside his work on Saturday Night Live.
Leno has been making several jokes at NBC’s expense on The Tonight Show recently – largely targeted at their ratings for various shows and making jokes about his NBC contract.
It hasn’t been confirmed who the new host of Jimmy’s current talk show Late Night will be, but Seth Meyers is a frontrunner according to rumours.
Prior to today’s confirmation, Jimmy and Jay sang their version of the classic duet Tonight from the Broadway musical West Side Story to address the rumours of the upcoming Tonight Show changes: