Jim Bell Is Leaving NBC After Nearly 30 Years at the Network

By A.J. Katz 

A celebrated live television producer has entered the open market.

Jim Bell is leaving NBC after nearly three decades at the network, parting ways after a year-long run as the executive in charge of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

“The past year with Jimmy and the terrific team at the show has been a blast, and I will always be grateful for this opportunity,” Bell said in a statement obtained by Variety. “But after serious contemplation, I realized I did not want to extend my time at the show. Those thoughts are part of larger ones I have been having about my career, and what has emerged for me is a strong desire to delve into something new — to build on my experience in news, sports, and entertainment so I can broaden and deepen my leadership role in the content universe.”


Bell is best to TV news industry followers as the executive producer of Today show from 2005-2012, and for his decades as a producer at NBC Sports and Olympics.

Bell joined NBC in 1990 and has worked on every Olympic Games NBC has broadcast since 1992 in either sports (1992, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2012) or news (2006, 2008 and 2010). He won Emmys for his work on the 1992, 1996, 2000 & 2002 Olympics and a Peabody for NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Bell, who was promoted to president of NBC Olympics Production & Programming in January 2017, also executive produced Telemundo’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup, and was slated to run NBCUniversal’s Olympics production in Tokyo for 2020.

According to Variety, he will be replaced on The Tonight Show on an interim basis by Gavin Purcell, a writer and producer who helped launch Jimmy Fallon’s tenure on Tonight and was with him during his run on NBC’s Late Night.

The Fallon-hosted version of The Tonight Show has slipped to second place in the late night ratings war over the past two years, as viewers are increasingly turning to CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to get their dose of political commentary and humor in the Trump era.