So remember that time when NBC gave Jay Leno the boot and brought in Conan O’Brien? Remember how long that lasted? And how they had to buy Conan out of his contract? That worked out well for them and we all know that Leno came back and is still on the air. For now. Because if you haven’t heard, next year Jimmy Fallon is taking over the Late Show.
Now, this doesn’t really have anything to do with ratings, unless NBC isn’t thrilled with having the number one show in the time slot. So let’s talk about Leno as a teenage girl for a second. Can you imagine how devastating/upsetting/annoying/angering it would be to be fired from your late night duties not just once BUT twice, in favor of someone else. Granted, technically he isn’t being fired because his contract will be up, but I would imagine your self-esteem has to take some sort of hit here. Maybe he is used to it because he’s been in the business for a long time and he’s getting older and generally that is what happens in the biz. But, being replaced even when you have the number one slot has to sting.
Leno is only 62 so if he was going to the Carson route, he still has 4 years before stepping down. But, obviously this is not really a choice of stepping down as much as it is being dethroned if you will. It’s the entertainment business and they love them a younger, fresher face (and if I am being honest I had a huge crush on Fallon back when he was on SNL, even though he couldn’t make it through an entire skit without breaking character and laughing. But he was just so charming). Speaking of Carson, Lorne Michaels had this to say about Fallon, “He’s the closest to Carson that I’ve seen of this generation”. Quite the compliment. Maybe NBC will get it right this time.
(Sorry for the terrible quality, but this is my favorite Fallon skit and a perfect example of him not being able to maintain character)
By the way, the network has NOT confirmed the switch up. Seth Meyers is also reportedly first in line to take over for Fallon. We shall see in due time.