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One Scenario For How Late Night's Musical Chairs Might Play Out

By Dustin Rowles | Miscellaneous | March 26, 2013 | Comments ()


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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."

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Who replaces Dave? Jon Stewart, obviously.

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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.

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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?

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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."

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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • e jerry powell

    Hmm. Why not put Tina Fey into the mix? She does have a tiny bit of free time (for now).

    Or is that something that's not possible due to the curse of Joan Rivers?

  • I don't mean to be the asshole that trots out the standard "All men, mostly white, seriously?!" But seriously, guys. Seriously. Give Maya Rudolph a show and be done with it. Seriously.

  • lowercase_ryan

    My main take-aways from this are: Jay Leno pretty much leaving, America wins.

  • googergieger

    I think I just realized why so many people like Fallon. They look up at the screen. See a kid. Trying his gosh darn hardest. And they think to themselves, "You know what? Yeah I could do that! I could be not talented on T.V!".

  • Devin McMusters

    Exactly! It's not how funny you are, but how hard you're trying up there!

  • John W

    I read a story that said the best replacement for Letterman would be Colbert.

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.c...

    I just hope Fallon learns from Conan and makes sure he has it in his contract that he must appear at a certain time slot, like Letterman did with CBS. That's why NBC was able to screw over Conan.

    Personally I would like to see someone like Amy Poehler or Tina Fey replace either Leno or Letterman. Or promote Craig Ferguson and import Graham Norton.

  • dizzylucy

    I'd follow Stewart to anything, but would be sad to see him leave the Daily Show, even though I like John Oliver and think he'll do fine.

    Leno should just go out on the road and do his act full time. Or retire.

  • selucius

    No, Vegas. Set Leno up with a permanent gig in Las Vegas so we never have to hear from him again.

  • foolsage

    Stateline, Nevada, perhaps. They have five casinos, after all.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Maybe I'm crazy, but I kinda feel like the Daily Show is an American institution, and it would be odd to have a Brit permanently headline (though I do love Oliver dearly)

    I don't think a name is necessary to replace Stewart though. I'd actually be intrigued by Aasif Mandvi in the host chair.

    I don't care about the rest of the merry-go-round - I don't watch them. Though it would be nice if Weekend Update, which is a stepping stone to the late night, went a little less Caucasian male.

  • hobo_jim

    Well, Piers Morgan replaced Larry King when he left, so it's not without precedent for an American News show to have a British host...

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't really think of Piers or Larry as covering actual *news* so much as talking to hear their own voices.

    I think what I feel is that I want the mocking of the country that the Daily Show does to feel like an inside job, not a furriner making fun of the U. S. of A. (even if Oliver is now a citizen). *I* can make fun of my family, but if you do I'll punch ya.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Not to be pedantic, but Mandvi was born in India and raised in Britain - surely Oliver still has a chance??

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I didn't know that about Mandvi, but he doesn't speak with an accent, so I hadn't realized.

  • James

    Craig Ferguson should get Dave's slot. Never watched the show but if he brings 50% of what he brings in his standup performances he'll be the funniest thing on late night TV.

  • Tinkerville

    But... he already is the funniest thing on late night TV. This was mentioned in a past Pajiba post, but I'd like Craigy to stay where he is so he can keep doing zany hilarious shit without network interference.

  • Tinkerville

    I don't watch SNL so I'm completely indifferent to Seth Meyers, so all in all I'm completely fine with all of this. I'll be very curious to see how John Oliver does in the lead seat this summer.

    However, I am a little bummed that there aren't any really good female candidates for late night. Chelsea fucking Handler not included.

  • BendinIntheWind

    Aisha Tyler. Just listening to her podcasts, she has a great rapport with guests and it sounds really comfortable and conversational. She's also incredibly smart, so I think she'd have a Conan-like ability to think on her feet and keep it interesting.

  • foolsage

    She definitely has the charm and wit.

  • dizzylucy

    Excellent suggestion. I've only listened to a few of her podcasts so far but really enjoyed them, and I think she'd be great.

  • Stina

    Exactly what I was thinking! I dunno, would Ellen Degeneres do late night? I feel like there's someone obvious I'm not thinking of...

  • BendinIntheWind

    Since so much of this reshuffling is ostensibly geared towards attracting and keeping a younger audience, I'm a little surprised whenever Chris Rock's name is tossed into the mix. Not to diminish his talent or contributions as a comedian, but as a member of the under-30 set, I see more of the Daily Show alums and stand-ups like John Mulaney as viable candidates.

    Might just be my own skewed experience, but it's hard for me to see Chris Rock as the "fresh" option, other than the painfully obvious fact that he'd be the only contribution to a more racially diverse late-night landscape. Ah well, I guess it would still be progress.

  • Jeff in Middletucky

    Christ, if they give Late Night to Chelsea Handler, I'll seriously consider seppuku.

  • This is NBC we're talking about. They'll find someone worse than Handler. I don't know who it could possibly be, but they'll find someone.

  • fluff_fluff

    John Oliver might not pull it off ratings-wise, but he's utterly brilliant on The Bugle and I would not at all mind a nightly dose of his brand of strained wordplay and dick jokes.

  • foolsage

    Oliver's standup is pretty solid. He's brilliant, articulate, and witty. I don't know how well he interviews people but I think he can handle the rest of the job with no trouble. We shall see.

  • Brown

    Somewhere, Carson Daily is weeping.

  • lowercase_ryan

    and strangely no one is there to hear it.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Oh you know what, as long as John Mulaney lands somewhere, I'm happy. That kid is hilarious. https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

  • BendinIntheWind

    I seriously cannot count how many times my friends and I have used the phrase "I'mma PUSH 'em" in our daily conversations. That, and "What are three other things about him?!"

  • Tinkerville

    My roommate and I constantly try to work "It's eleven up and one over, you simple bitch!" into conversations.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Yeah, that's right, this is about to go somewhere playfully anti-semitic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

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