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In what could be the most concrete sign that big changes are coming to NBC’s primetime line-up, a new report suggests that the Tonight Show would go back to New York so Jimmy Fallon wouldn’t have to move his crew to the West Coast.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the peacock network has already made a “commitment” to Fallon that he is the successor to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. To sweeten the deal, NBC will let Fallon stay in New York, where the show launched back in 1954 with Steve Allen.
Sources for the paper say that NBC is just going through the formalities at this point and is just trying to find a good time to make the switch. The report suggests that NBC wants it to happen by fall 2014.
“There is no way on earth that this is not going to happen,” a senior executive told the NY Times.
Fallon’s Late Night airs at 12:35 a.m. and draws a younger audience than Leno, although Leno still draws a bigger crowd than his competitors at 11:35 p.m. As NBC’s primetime struggles continue (and continue to be the butt of Leno’s jokes), Leno remains the biggest asset the network has.
Leno and Fallon are also very different hosts. As the recent Justin Timberlake week shows, Fallon frequently gets his guests more involved than just interviews, bringing them in skits and even singing with them. Fallon definitely brings an SNL vibe to late night, especially since he was on the sketch show.
Of course, NBC also has to try to avoid the infamous debacle with Conan O’Brien and Leno. They had tried to replace him with O’Brien and gave Leno a 10 p.m. show that bombed. The network ended up pushing O’Brien out and now he hosts Conan on TBS.