Jay Leno Announces His Departure from 'The Tonight Show' in Spring 2014; Jimmy Fallon Will Be New Host

Categories: 1-Featured,Late Night TV Ratings,Network TV Press Releases

Written By

April 3rd, 2013


via press release:


Jimmy Fallon (NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) to Assume Reins of Iconic Franchise as Host


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – April 03, 2013 – Jay Leno, longtime host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” announced today that he will wrap up what will be 22 years of headlining the iconic late-night show in Spring 2014. NBC also announced today that Jimmy Fallon, now host of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” will transition into new hosting duties on “The Tonight Show” franchise after Leno concludes his successful run.


As part of the transition, “The Tonight Show” will be returning to its original home in 30 Rock in New York and will be executive-produced by Emmy Award winner Lorne Michaels (“Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock”).


Programming plans for the 12:35 a.m. (ET) time period currently are in development and will be announced soon.


Said Leno: “Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy. If you need me, I'll be at the garage.”


Said Fallon: “I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”


“Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years,” said Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal. “His long reign as the highest-rated late-night host is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to his viewers and to NBC.


“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, in conjunction with our coverage of next year's Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia.


“I also want to congratulate and thank Debbie Vickers and her ‘Tonight Show’ team for producing an entertaining, first-class show every night for the past two decades. Debbie’s role in the creative and popular success of this franchise cannot be overstated.”


Leno has hosted “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” since taking over the reins from television icon Johnny Carson in 1992.


“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” has ranked #1 ahead of its ABC and CBS time-period competition in 18-49 viewers and total viewers for each season since Leno’s return in March 2010 and for the 14 seasons before his departure in May 2009. During the current season, “Tonight” is consistently #1 versus its ABC and CBS slot rivals, averaging a 0.8 rating, 3 share in adults 18-49 and 3.5 million viewers overall.


At 12:35 a.m. ET, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” has consistently ranked #1 in 18-49 versus the time period’s ABC and CBS competition each season since debuting in March of 2009 and has also held the advantage over CBS’s “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” in total viewers for the last three seasons. So far during the 2012-13 season, “Late Night” is averaging a 0.5 rating, 3 share in adults 18-49 and 1.7 million viewers overall.


Before Leno became the host of the top-rated "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," he honed his comedy in clubs all over the country often exceeding 300 dates per year. He opened for the likes of Tom Jones and John Denver and after moving to Los Angeles began his career in television and film, both writing behind the scenes and making appearances in shows such as "Welcome Back Kotter" and films including "American Hot Wax." On March 2, 1977, Leno made his first appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and was named permanent guest host in 1987. While he took over the desk full-time in 1992, Leno never stopped touring on the comedy circuit and still averages over 150 gigs a year.


Emmy and Grammy Award winner, Fallon began his TV career with “Saturday Night Live” in 1998, where he quickly became an audience favorite. Known for his spot-on impressions, innovative musical and comedy sketches and his stint as co-anchor of “Weekend Update” with Tina Fey, Fallon spent six successful years on the show. In March 2009, Fallon returned to NBC and took over the late- night legacy with “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” The show has continued to garner attention for its viral videos, audience games, A-list guests, and Fallon’s choice of critically acclaimed house-band, The Roots.


In just four years on air, Fallon and the "Late Night" team have already begun collecting awards. Most recently, Fallon was honored with his second consecutive People’s Choice Award for Favorite Late Night Host (2012 and 2013) and the show received the 2012 Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Talk Show. “Late Night” was celebrated with a 2012 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Variety Series and earned three Emmy nominations in 2011, including the show’s first nominations in the series and writing categories. The year prior, Fallon earned an Emmy for the show’s website in the Interactive Media category and received the “Webby Person of the Year” Award in 2009. Fallon received a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album after releasing “Blow Your Pants Off” in 2012, a musical comedy album featuring song parodies written and performed on “Late Night.”



  • BrieK

    @ TVFAN2013

    Oh. Thanks.

  • dust

    Leno and NBC are scum and Fallon is talentless.

  • denroy3

    Throwing in the towel, NBC? Now you will be unwatchable 24-7.

  • k:Alex

    It’s in the name; Johnny, Jay, Jimmy.

    But we know this already, it’s more interesting what CBS do.
    They have nobody, everybody there is old.

  • Oliver


  • k:Alex

    Will ‘The Roots’ also go to ‘The Tonight Show’, because it is not a big band as they have from beginning of ‘The Tonight Show’ ?

  • Oliver


    I expect so.

    I suspect a major reason NBC was so willing to get rid of Leno is that it allows them to cut costs. Don’t expect the next Late Night show to have a band.

  • Joseph


    There may not even be a “Late Night” after Jimmy Fallon leaves.

    One possibility I could see NBC doing is to expand “Tonight” to 90 minutes (11:30 P.M.-1 A.M. ET/PT), followed by an expanded “Last Call” with Carson Daly from 1 to 2 A.M. ET/PT.

    Expanding “Tonight” and “Last Call” and eliminating “Late Night” could save NBC a lot of money, for I suspect expanding each show by half an hour would only mean minimal increases in the shows’ respective budgets.

  • Joseph

    I presume London bookies are already taking bets on how long it will be until Jimmy Fallon is dropped and Jay Leno gets brought back.



  • MichaelChickless

    How long until Leno steals the Tonight Show back once again?

  • Uofmguy423

    I like Leno and I like Fallon…to some extent. I’ve never liked Conan and when he took over his ratings stunk…that’s why he was let go. He’s not funny and doesn’t appeal to a large audience. I think Fallon will do fine.

  • Richard Steven Hack

    Here we go again! :-)

  • Norman


    EWWWWWWW! Gross.

  • janiecec

    Do they hire idiots on NBC and MSNBC? If there is a stupid move they have made it…Jay Leno is the best and always will be…Fallon is NO Leno..He comes across as spastic and desperate…HUGE MISTAKE..

  • Jim

    The first time I saw Jay Leno, I was expecting to see Fred Travalena.

  • Dunce

    Everybody pretty much knew this was happening but the late night battles will be real interesting especially once Letterman retires as it will be open season.

    I just want this move to assure that Jimmy Fallon will get a packaged deal to get Guys with Kids renewed. HA HA!

  • Brit

    And NBC will continue to fail. Leno is #1 at nights, and Fallon taking over will lead CBS to number 1 at night. NBC is ran by idiots.


    It’s Lenos time to go… he is getting old & not funny. Letterman is next…

  • MichaelChickless

    @Dunce “once Letterman retires”

    Will Jerry Seinfeld or Louis CK replace him? (“Louis” on FX reference)

  • Fake Me Out

    I think the bookies should be looking at when and where Jay ends up … spring 2015 @ 11:35 on Fox? Fall 2015 @ 11:35 in syndication? Summer 2015 @ 11:00 on TBS! :-) I could be wrong but I have a feeling Jay is gonna wanna stick it to NBC for how they screwed him over again … never mind that it is somewhat karma for how he screwed Dave.


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