The New York Times reported on March 20 that NBC is negotiating a final agreement with “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon to take over as host of “The Tonight Show.” The paper’s anonymous source claims that Fallon is set to replace Jay Leno as host of the nightly program by fall of 2014 at the absolute latest. Under its new host “The Tonight Show” would return to New York where the show started in 1954 starring Steve Allen.
Jay Leno has been host of “The Tonight Show” since 1992. His behind-the-scenes shenanigans to take the job from Johnny Carson were chronicled in the book “The Late Shift,” which was later turned into a movie by HBO.
NBC previously had contracted Conan O’Brien to take over the famous gig, but that move blew up in the network’s face when Leno decided not to retire. NBC feared Jay would launch a competing show on another network, so at first they gave him a new prime time talk show. That experiment quickly failed in its time slot and was cancelled. Leno was then given his old job back and Conan left to eventually start a nightly show on cable network TBS.
Leno recently angered NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt with some jokes aimed at the struggling network.