Once again, the rumour mill is in full swing with regards to Leno giving up The Tonight Show next year and what’s going to happen when he leaves and other subsequent changes at NBC. It’s been about 4 years since NBC announced Jay would be giving up The Tonight Show chair in 2009 but it seems Leno might be staying at NBC, with a brand new show, as NBC tries to sign him up to a new contract. Conan O’Brien would still get The Tonight Show gig and BND.com (New York Times) says “NBC has begun construction on a new studio for “Tonight,” as well as offices for O’Brien’s staff”.
According to reports, TV networks aren’t allowed to negotiate with Leno until November 2009. BND.com (New York Times) also suggest “executives who know the details of his contract said Leno would remain attached to NBC through the end of 2009, even though he probably would not be on the air for the last six months of the contract”. Jimmy Fallon – of Saturday Night Live fame – is thought to be the favourite to take over Late Night when Conan leaves, and it’s thought – if Jimmy were to get the job – Conan would leave Late Night several months before starting on The Tonight Show to give Fallon a good chance of settling in, with a lead-in from Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
It’s also believed that – when Conan starts The Tonight Show next year – Leno wouldn’t be back on-screen hosting a new show until 2010, to give O’Brien time to get the show up and running without any competition from Leno. It’s not known whether Leno would get offered a primetime show on NBC, another late night programme on NBC or whether he would defect to another network to host a show – ABC, Fox and Sony Pictures Television are all interested in signing him up. If Sony Pictures Television got the deal, BND.com say they’re likely to offer him a “syndicated late-night show”. David Letterman is signed up to stay with the Late Show on CBS until 2010, and it’s not known whether he will retire after this, or renew with CBS – or another network – again.
5th March 2008 update… More speculation;