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The Inevitability of Jimmy Fallon's Succession to "The Tonight Show" Is Now Even More Inevitable

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | March 20, 2013 | Comments ()


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Bill Carter -- the man who has been chronicling the late-night wars for about two decades -- is reporting over on The New York Times today that Jimmy Fallon's succession to The Tonight Show is now even more inevitable than before. Apparently, not only is Fallon expected to replace Leno -- who has caused a stir recently by making terrible jokes about NBC's terrible ratings -- but he's expected to move the show back to New York, where it was originally hosted under Steve Allen. In fact, according to Carter, a new set is quietly being built for Fallon. NBC neither confirms nor denies this report; they're only saying that Fallon is getting a new state-of-the-art set, but why would he be unless he was about to take over The Tonight Show.

No definitive timetable has been set, but Leno's contract expires in the fall of 2014, and NBC is in a hurry to re-up Fallon before he goes out on the open market. It's expected that Fallon will take over The Tonight Show's hosting duties sometime in late 2014, where he's expected to fend off Jimmy Kimmel, who has been grabbing a new generation of viewers over on ABC since he moved into the 11:35 slot.

The only wrinkle in this is that, despite his relative unpopularity with critics and other late-night talk show hosts, Leno still leads in the ratings. Presumably this time, however, NBC won't balk if they suffer a short-term drop under Fallon in the new time slot. He is, after all, the best late-night talk show in the business (excluding the Comedy Central guys).

Who will take over "Late Night" is still an open question, although there has been some silly speculation that it'd go to Howard Stern. Another question is whether Letterman will also retire, and who would replace him. Jon Stewart -- who once had a holding contract to replace Letterman -- seems like the appropriate choice, especially in light of his leave from "The Daily Show" this summer, when John Oliver will get a three-month tryout in his seat.

(New York Times)


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Unsolicited Late Night Thoughts;

    Letterman - For me, coming of age in a post-Carson world, Letterman will always be king. Even when I was old enough to watch and appreciate night time talk shows I never tuned in for The Tonight Show, I'd find something else to do until Late Night came on. As everyone has said, he's sort of a shell of what he once was, but I'd argue that when he's on he's still hands down the best host on TV. I imagine it's gotta be tough to keep an edge for 30+ years and that's what we've seen with Dave the past 10 years or so.

    Leno - Fucking terrible.

    Kimmel - I really haven't given Jimmy's show a chance. Thought The Man Show was awful and never really gave him a shot again after that. But I see clips posted now and then and they are always funny. He seems like a good fit and I did love his ruthless Leno takedown during the whole Conan debacle.

    Conan - TBS has not been kind to him. Although I think it can be argued that the move from NY to LA took most of the bloom off of that rose. That said, his Tonight Show had it's moments and it's too bad he wasn't allowed to grow into it properly. His first Tonight Show sketch with him running coast to coast is still one of the funniest things on TV in the past 5 years. I don't know what it is about the TBS show, but it just feels hollow, for lack of a better term.

    Fallon - I'm consistently surprised at how great he is as the host of Late Night. Not sure if I quite see him as a Tonight Show host at this point, but that title is sort of meaningless these days. Best case for him would be for them to retire the title and just call it something else.

    Ferguson - Niche. Hilarious and consistently groundbreaking, but niche just the same. Which he fully owns. He knows he doesn't belong at 11:30 nor does he want it (or so he says). Hope he sticks around for a while.

    Stewart - Clearly polished and could take over any of the 11:30 timeslots but it would just be too huge a loss for The Daily Show. Not sure he's replaceable there.

    If Fallon does move up I think they oughta do with Late Night what I was rooting for when Conan first left - hire Joel McHale. Guessing his schedule is about to open up.

  • ,

    Watch your back, Jimmy.

  • Dave Margolis

    Not surprising that the humorless Pajiba considers speculation re Howard Stern to be "silly," but he happens to be the best interviewer around. But you'd only know that if your wife let you listen to his show...

  • John W

    Leno isn't going anywhere.

    At best he's going to be living in the duct work like Chang in Community.

    At worst it's going to take a SWAT team to extricate him out the studio where they shoot the Tonight Show.

  • googergieger

    You spelled Conan O'Brien wrong. And I think I stepped into a time machine.

  • ViciousTrollop

    I'm Team Coco. It's the only late night show I watch routinely. I throw Fallon there sometimes as well.

  • BWeaves

    State of the art set? How state of the art can desk or chair be?

  • ,

    What I was wondering. Late-night shows are cheesy and silly; the sets should look cheesy and silly, like the Mike Douglas set Kramer hauled out of the Dumpster.

  • Nathan Convey

    Don't do it sweet Jimmy! It will only end in your destruction! Leno will never retire. Zombie Leno will continue his evil reign for years to come.

  • Bill Carter is the man. Reading The War For Late Night for a class right now and it's very interesting. Leno's such a hack...they should have retired him and actually given Conan a fighting chance. Poor Conan languishing on freaking TBS. I'd love for the tonight show to move back to New York. I always loved Letterman and Conan because being right in the middle of NY they could go places and do silly things.

  • sean

    I just thought that Viacom moves Jon Stewart over to take over for Letterman. I had read before that was sort of the plan.

  • minxy

    That is a sexy up nose shot of Fallon.

  • Batesian

    Why is Craig Ferguson routinely left out of the late night roundup? I'd argue his show is more consistently entertaining, irreverent, insightful, and absurd than Fallon; plus, he's a far better interviewer.

    Not saying he'd be a good fit for "The Tonight Show," just surprised he never even gets a mention whenever late night shows are discussed.

  • ,

    Because I don't find him funny? And I've tried.

    I'll go crawl back in my hole now.

  • e jerry powell

    Ferguson is a good company guy, and he's not gonna grouse about taking over from his boss or not unless Letterman says something first.

  • pajiba

    Ferguson IS great, but he's kind of like the Doctor Who of late night. He's got a very passionate audience that adores him, but I don't think it's likely to expand much. He could do the Late Late Show forever, though. He's kind of perfect where he is.

  • Batesian

    Yup, agreed. He's just about perfect doing what he's doing, right where and when he's doing it. Just saying, when late night is mentioned*, he's often left off getting even simple acknowledgement for doing consistently great work.

    *Not specific to Pajiba, mind you.**

    **And not that I ever check out any other sites!

  • Tinkerville

    Exactly. I love Craig just where he is since otherwise I doubt they'd let him continue with his ridiculous (read: amazing) interview style, monologues, etc. I have a bad feeling we'd suddenly be seeing the same rehearsed interviews we see on every other damn talk show instead of him asking out of nowhere if they'd ever spend a night with a drunken hobo.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    He'll ask that question? Okay, looks like I can't ever go on Craig Ferguson if I get famous. Or, hey, I'll just lie.

    Actually, define "drunken."

  • toblerone

    +1000. His show is the best thing on late night.

  • dizzylucy

    I love Craig Ferguson, his show is always funny and interesting, and I really prefer the conversational style vs. prepped interviewing. However, I feel like he gets away with a lot of the stuff he does because he's on so late and CBS practically ignores/forgets about him. If he moved up into the bigger spotlight of Letterman's show, I could see them being more restrictive with him.

    But I agree it's odd he's always left out of the discussion.

  • CBS can't interfere with the Late show or Lettermans show because Letterman's production company owns them. Letterman has always been his own man and doesn't kiss the network's ass like Leno.

  • Wicked

    ...Jay is an arrogant b-hole. He can go f*ck himself.

  • katy

    I really hope you're not bleeping out butthole. That word should be used freely.

  • e jerry powell

    ...Jay is an arrogant asshole. He can go fuck himself.

    In fact, he might find fucking himself a better use of his time.

  • Arran

    I do like Jimmy a lot, but I think it's a stretch to say he's the best late-night host. He arguably has the best late-night show, but there's a lot of factors besides him that makes this so. He's very affable, but still far more comfortable doing the silly comedy bits than he is actually hosting.

  • pajiba

    Fair enough, and you're right. But his show is the best right now.

  • Arran

    Oh, I agree that he has the best show all around. It just makes me happy. Though I'm not sure how much of this is due to Jimmy and how much it is due to the fact it allows one to see Questlove's magnificent afro night after night.

  • toblerone

    Sorry, Craig Ferguson has the best show on late night. PERIOD.

    Can't they just bring back Conan?

  • Blake

    Cosign. If you think Conan's ratings sucked at the beginning Fallon's aren't going to be any better.

  • dizzylucy

    Though at least he won't have the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on at 10 pm to contend with like Conan did. It still amazes me they thought the Leno audience would transfer to Conan when they could still watch Leno.

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