One Scenario For How Late Night's Musical Chairs Might Play Out
It's all but a foregone conclusion now that Jimmy Fallon will replace Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," and most of the evidence points toward a September 2014 date. But once Fallon is announced as the new host of "The Tonight Show," that will set off a fun little game of late-night musical chairs. This is how I envision that will go down.
First of all, Jimmy Fallon becomes the new host of "The Tonight Show."
Who is going to replace Fallon on "Late Night"? Several names have been bandied about, including my favorite, Joel McHale, as well as Chelsea Handler. But the most likely replacement will be Seth Meyers from Saturday Night Live.
Honestly, I'm OK with that. I like Meyers, and I think he's a strong "Weekend Update" host. There are many weeks when Meyers is the only good thing about an episode of "SNL." However, should Meyers take over on "Late Night," that leaves a vacancy on "Weekend Update." There are no clear frontrunners. I think Hader has been around too long to take over that seat this late in his "SNL" run. I love the idea of Kate McKinnon taking over, but she's way too good at sketch comedy to give up most of her screen time to "Weekend Update." Lorne Michaels does like to pull from the writer's room, and co-head writer Colin Jost might be a good choice, but in the end, I think he'll go with John Mulaney, but only if NBC doesn't pick up his sitcom this fall.
Meanwhile, with Fallon and Kimmel in place, CBS will probably get anxious about having a host in place for a younger generation, too. But Letterman won't be pushed out. He's smart enough to read the tea leaves, and he will probably take his leave, as well. But, he'll stick around for one more year so that he can demonstrate that he came before Leno, and he will be around after Leno has left. Plus he needs a full year to prove that he can perform well against the younger generation, and so that he can go out on top.
Who replaces Dave? Jon Stewart, obviously.
Look: I think there's been talks, already. Jon Stewart once had a holding contract to replace Dave. Stewart's contract with "The Daily Show" is extended through mid-2015, which is about when I'd expect Dave to leave. Plus, Stewart is taking off three months this year to direct a film, but I also think it's, in part, to give John Oliver a crack at hosting "The Daily Show." I think Stewart is also ready to move on.
Honestly, I don't know that Oliver pulls it off. I think Comedy Central is going to want a bigger name. Who could do it? Rob Corddry, maybe. Demetri Martin? Louis C.K. wouldn't do it. But maybe Chris Rock?
Meanwhile, I don't think that's the last we see of Jay Leno, either. Where does he go? Fox has late-night space available, but I don't think Leno and Fox would jibe. He seems more suited to TBS, but that's Conan O'Brien's stomping ground now (although, GOD, what a mess that would be). FX? Absolutely not. Showtime doesn't feel like a good fit, although it's been discussed. I think the better fit, actually, might be A&E. Most of his audience is already there, watching "Duck Dynasty" and "Storage Wars."