No doubt spurred on in part by ABC’s decision to move Jimmy Kimmel into the 11:35 PM slot, NBC is changing up its own late-night lineup, having Jimmy Fallon replace Jay Leno as the host of “The Tonight Show next year, tied to the 2014 Winter Olympics. The change will happen next Spring, with lots of promotion during the games in Sochi, Russia.
In addition, NBC confirms that “The Tonight Show” will move from Burbank, California to NBC’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters in New York. NBC is building out a new studio for Fallon, in the same space that once held the original “Tonight Show” studio, when it was hosted by Steve Allen.
“Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years,” said Steve Burke, the CEO of NBCUniversal in a statement. “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.
“Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to The Job until you’re the old guy,” says Leno in a statement. “If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.”
The late night TV circuit has changed dramatically over the last 10 years or so, with cable upstarts like “The Daily Show,” ‘Chelsea lately” and “Conan” establishing themselves as alternatives to “Tonight” and the “Late Show with David Letterman.” ABC for decades had its news program “Nightline” in the 11:30 slot, but increased competition moved Kimmel up a half-hour, and shifted “Nightline” to 12:35 AM.
MSNBC (of course) reported the news shortly before 1 PM, the first TV network to do so. CNN reported the switch just after 1 PM.