After months of speculation that have turned out to be completely spot on, NBC has finally gotten around to announcing Jay Leno’s departure from The Tonight Show and his spot being taken over by Jimmy Fallon, current host of Late Night. This time it appears the transition will be a permanent one, although the last time Leno left the show it seemed pretty permanent as well, so who knows what’s actually happening at this point. Maybe NBC will decide they miss Leno and will try some harebrained scheme to get him back in front of the camera, thus thrusting Fallon out of the spotlight in a Conan-like fashion. I wouldn’t be surprised at all.
What is surprising is with Fallon comes some pretty big changes to The Tonight Show. Production is being moved to New York City, where it will be filmed at the show’s original location at 30 Rock. On top of that, Deadline reported Saturday Night Live and Late Night executive producer Lorne Michaels would be coming on to executive produce Tonight Show for the first time. He is expected to do this without leaving either of his prior positions at SNL or Late Night. While the last time Leno left it was during May of 2009, it was hinted by NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke that Fallon will take over earlier than that in 2014 in order to take advantage of NBC’s broadcast of the Sochi Winter Olympics.
As for who would take over for Fallon on Late Night, the most likely candidate seems to be Seth Meyers. He would be a fitting replacement as both he and Fallon came from SNL and did time behind the desk of Weekend Update. It would be like keeping the position in the family, which certainly seems like something that’s is happening what with Michaels now influencing both late-night programs. But will Fallon, with Michael’s help, be able to keep up the same numbers Leno did? Under his reign, The Tonight Show was consistently the No. 1 late-night program. Those are big shoes to fill.