“JUST IN: Jay Leno will depart NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’ in Spring 2014; Jimmy Fallon to replace, NBC says”
That’s the official Tweet from NBC, confirming a story leaked earlier today on the New York Times website: Late Night‘s Jimmy Fallon will be replacing Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show beginning in February, 2014, after the conclusion of NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
According to the Times’ story, NBC/ Universal chief exec Steve Burke made sure that this promised transition would be much less contentious than the 2009 Conan O’Brien/ Jay Leno succession debacle that saw O’Brien depart the network entirely.
“Clearly our goal has been to make this a smooth transition,” Burke told the NYT. “Jay deserves to be treated like someone who has done a wonderful thing for our company for two decades.”
“The main difference between this and the other time is I’m part of the process,” Leno stated. “The last time the decision was made without me. I came into work one day and — you’re out.” This time around “there really aren’t any complications like there were the last time… This time it feels right.”
As for Fallon, he was clearly taking the cautious approach. “I just kind of wanted to keep doing my job well,” Fallon said. “I have nothing but respect for Jay. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have a show to be taking over.”
No word yet if Fallon will be taking his Grammy-winning Late Night Band The Roots with him to Burbank, or who will be replacing Fallon as the Late Night host, but SNL’s Seth Meyers is considered a strong contender.