In February of next year, “The Tonight Show” will have a new host behind the desk. Jimmy Fallon will take over the show as the sixth host since the show’s creation in 1954.
Fallon is joining the likes of Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson (who hosted for about 30 years), Conan O’Brien and the current host, Jay Leno. Leno hosted from 1992 until 2010 when Conan O’Brien took over for a short period of time. Leno returned as host in 2010 and will leave the position after the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Currently, Fallon hosts his own show “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” which follows Leno’s show on NBC. The move will put Fallon on at 11:35 p.m. instead of an hour later opening up more viewership for the Brooklyn native. Fallon became host for his own show in 2009 after O’Brien made the switch to Leno’s spot. Before O’Brien, David Letterman was the host.
Fallon became a member of the NBC family after joining “Saturday Night Live” as a featured player during the 1998-1999 season, before becoming a full cast member that summer. Fallon ended up co-hosting the segment “Weekend Update” with Tina Fey until he left SNL in 2004. Fallon then switched gears and began his acting career.
As for “Tonight,” Fallon will make an excellent replacement for Leno. Fallon has been in training for the spot since he joined SNL in his younger years. The 39-year-old will have no problem keeping the viewers who religiously watch Leno, especially since he appears to have Leno’s blessing. Unlike when O’Brien took over, Leno has said that he played a large role in selecting the next host; one of the reasons Leno says the show failed during that time. Fallon will bring with him an already huge fan base, so there should be no concern over the host’s success.
Some great things are going to happen along with Fallon’s move to the earlier time slot. For starters, the show is said to be moving back to New York from Los Angeles. The show will be filmed at 30 Rock, where Fallon’s show is set already. The other great news for the show is that Fallon’s house band, The Roots, will be returning as “Tonight’s” house band.
While this move is great for those involved, there are three late night show hosts who are on at the same time. Letterman, O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel all host their own shows on CBS, TBS and ABC respectively. Letterman was hopeful in getting the job back when O’Brien took over for his short, controversial term as host. Letterman did not have anything nice to say on his show after the most recent announcement was made.
“But NBC, God bless them, have announced the official date of Leno’s departure,” Letterman said in his monologue. “No mention of his official date of return.”
He also referenced the switch with O’Brien, who was also a much younger late night show host at the time.
O’Brien wished Fallon the best of luck, saying that he is the best person for the job. Kimmel also congratulated Fallon on the move. Kimmel himself has just recently made the time switch to compete head-to- head in the 11:35 p.m. time slot.
An even more important move looms on the horizon. Who will take over the “Late Night” show? As of right now, Seth Meyers is the leading man for the job. Meyers is the current host of “Weekend Update” on “SNL” where he is also the head writer for the show. Meyers will make a wonderful host for the show if he moves to the position. At the same time, he fits in well with the SNL cast. In a perfect world he would be able to star on both shows, but until we know for sure he is making the move, we’ll have to just tune into “SNL.”
If Meyers is hired as the new “Late Night” host, this could mean that NBC could use the improv show to train comedians to become hosts. Who knows? We may even see Amy Poehler or Tiny Fey taking over on “Late Night.” While Poehler is currently on “Parks and Recreation,” the future of the show is constantly up in the air. The show was only scheduled for 13 episodes this season until NBC extended the contract. Fey’s show “30 Rock” is no longer in production, so she could also make a good fit for the late nighttime slot. Both of these “SNL” alumnae would fill the role perfectly. They both bring a strong following that could help add to the show’s popularity. Most of the hints, however, lead to Meyers.
It would be smart for NBC to show that late night talk show hosting jobs don’t only belong to men. Joan Rivers hosted her own show on FOX back in the day, but it’s been a while since a woman has hosted on one of the major networks. It’ll be interesting to see how NBC handles this from here on out. While Meyers seems to be the early favorite, no replacement needs to be set until next February.