The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


History says NBC threatens late-night hook to Fallon

As recent history proves, hitting the stage after Jay Leno comes with no promises of success.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, NBC-Universal is expected to announce Leno’s retirement as well as his replacement on “The Tonight Show”: current “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon.

The report predicts Fallon will move to the famous 11:35 p.m. weekday timeslot in fall 2014.

NBC’s been here before. In 2009, Leno’s “Tonight Show” contract was up, and he announced his retirement from his 17-year gig. Then-“Late Night” host Conan O’Brien advanced to the “Tonight Show” desk, but his tenure was nowhere near perfect.

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Although Conan now had his dream job at the original late-night television show, NBC executives breathed down his neck at every opportunity. The transition between Leno and Conan hurt “Tonight Show” ratings, and NBC panicked.

Leno didn’t help matters, either. Suddenly, revoking his public retirement – a la Brett Favre – Leno wanted a new late-night show, and, desperate for ratings stability, NBC gave it to him. The broadcasting cleared its schedule of expensive drama productions and aired “The Jay Leno Show” at 10 p.m.

Despite acquiring his dream job, Conan remained second fiddle to Leno – the older host did the identical monologue, guests and skit formula he had followed on “The Tonight Show.”

Plus Leno had returned to being the first face of NBC’s late-night schedule, when Conan’s   blazing orange swoop should have greeted viewers each weeknight.

“The Jay Leno Show” was a flop at the 10 p.m. airtime, so in January 2010 NBC announced Leno would move to the 11:35 p.m. slot and Conan’s “Tonight Show” would air at 12:05 a.m.

In an announcement to the media, Conan said he received no advance notice of NBC’s decision, nor did they ask for his input; the executives were simply pressured to act by the falling ratings.

Conan refused to accept his new assignment, pointing out the “Tonight Show” was no longer “tonight” if it aired the next day at 12:05 a.m., and he left the network after receiving a $33 million settlement. Conan’s final “Tonight Show” episode aired Feb. 22, 2010, and Leno returned two weeks later on March 1.

The biggest issue was NBC didn’t allow enough time for the audience to transition to Conan’s different hosting style. Conan brought his “Late Night” followers, surely, but the Leno crowd had to be won over. By NBC’s measure, Conan didn’t do that quick enough. His “Tonight Show” didn’t reach eight months on the air.

It’s difficult for me not to place all of the blame on Leno. He’s just a stooge of NBC, which gave Johnny Carson’s job to Leno instead of the popular candidate, David Letterman.

I wish Jimmy Fallon nothing but the best, even if I’ve only watched a handful of his late-night appearances. My fear is that his transition to the “Tonight Show” desk will be just as rocky as Conan’s was. Then Jay Leno will return AGAIN, trying to reel back in the older crowd who probably falls asleep during the 11 p.m. news anyway.



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