New Host, New York! Big Changes At The Tonight Show Are Afoot!

By April 3, 2013

If you felt your life wasn’t truly complete without late night talk show drama, I’m here to tell you that you’re in for a treat! From that Leno/Letterman fiasco that transpired in the early 90s after Johnny Carson called it quits, to the failed host transition from Leno to Conan in 2009-2010, it looks like things are getting shaken up….again! But this time, it seems everyone is taking a step in the right direction.

This morning, NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke put all the rumors to rest by brokering a deal for Jimmy Fallon to take the wheel (so to speak) from Jay Leno and drive the “The Tonight Show” ship into the land of the future! Following NBC’s 2014 coverage (Feb 7th-23rd) of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Jimmy Fallon will be the show’s new host. Woohoo!

Look, we’ve been dancing around the ongoing rumors of this inevitable change for months now. And with NBC’s ratings struggle, this change is the absolute right decision. Yes, this is a personal opinion of mine, but Jay Leno hasn’t been funny since the early 90’s. Hell, I’m not sure he was even good then…except for maybe his stint on those Doritos commercials.

I remember sneaking into the living room to watch Johnny Carson’s final episode and it truly was the end of an era. I’ve seen footage of Steve Allen and Jack Paar hosting the show in its early years, but Johnny Carson made “The Tonight Show” the establishment it still is today. He was brash and classy at the same time and ran the the show for 30 years, winning 6 Emmy Awards, The Governor’s Award and a Peabody in 1985. Just watch this and remind yourself of those carefree days of yore!

The timing of this announcement, one would think, is probably also connected to all those on-air jokes from Mr. Leno regarding the sour ratings slump NBC has been in recently. I know that’s speculation, but one simply should not bite the hand that feeds them. It was on March 24th, that Burke flew to L.A. to meet with Leno and help smooth the way for a cohesive transition. A further sign that a deal was in the works showed itself in the form of a sketch that Leno and Fallon starred (sang) in that Monday night.

Jay Leno will be 64 years old when he retires from the show in 2014. When asked about the transition in an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Leno said, “The main difference between this and the other time is I’m part of the process. 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,” he added. “This time it feels right.”

With Fallon’s pending move to “The Tonight Show”, it looks like the late night television staple will also be making its way back to its proverbial birth place of New York after existing in Burbank, California since 1972. A new studio is currently being constructed in the 30 Rockefeller building as I type this. I suppose it should also be mentioned now, the ever growing speculation of NBC’s next plan: the 12:35 am time slot. Currently, that slot is the home for “Late Night” and once Jimmy Fallon exits, all eyes seem to be landing on SNL cast member Seth Meyers. And while Meyers would do a fantastic job in the host spot, NBC is keeping their lips sealed, only alluding to possible bigger changes in the pipeline and a possible schedule shift. But as I said, this is all speculation at this point.

It must be stated here that NBC’s decision to make this change now is a bit surprising. Leno has kept his #1 position in Late Night (baffling) and with the frailty of NBC’s prime time lineup, any huge changes could pose a major risk. But with the upgrade ABC gave to Jimmy Kimmel with the golden time slot of 11:35 pm, concern over bringing in the younger viewers (which Kimmel excels at) probably kicked The Peacock in the butt to make a move.

“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,” Burke said in during the deal’s announcement.

He better be bringing Questlove and The Roots with him.

I mean, how else am I gonna get my news slow jammed at me?

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.