NBC announces a ‘Tonight Show’ succession plan, because it worked so well last time

posted at 10:11 pm on March 20, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Ultimately, Josh Greenman is right:

But that’s why NBC keeps trying to update its Leno with younger, fresher talent, even though he rules in ratings. First Conan, and then Fallon, are supposed to lead NBC into the future where everything is Hulu’d and Roku’d and YouTubed. Though Leno works on TV, when’s the last time you saw anyone bother to post a bit of his on the web? NBC wants that and Fallon brings it, though less cleverly than Jimmy Kimmel who marries Middle America appeal and Internet love better than either of them. The New York Times:

NBC has settled on two new stars for “The Tonight Show”: Jimmy Fallon and New York City.

The network has made a commitment to Mr. Fallon, the current host of its “Late Night” program, for him to succeed Jay Leno as the next host of “Tonight,” according to several senior television executives involved in the decision. As part of the agreement, the show would move from Burbank, Calif., back to New York, where it started in 1954 with Steve Allen as host.

NBC has not completed a deal with Mr. Fallon yet, but his assent is considered mostly a formality, since the move would represent a significant step up for him. And the network has not settled on an exact timetable for the switch, though it is expected to take place by fall 2014 at the latest, said the executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because discussions were still continuing.

One senior executive who has been involved in the discussions said on Wednesday that “there is no way on earth that this is not going to happen.”

Famous last words. I’m with Ace. Isn’t NBC just setting itself up for another awkward, possibly disastrous, transition of power?

I’ve seen bits of Jimmy Fallon here and there and I’ll concede: He’s an extremely affable guy and can be funny. I don’t see any real problem, per se, with NBC thinking he could be their Tonight Show guy.

Except… Jay Leno is very competitive guy, and even though he’s richer than Croesus and definitely could retire, and maybe wants to retire, I gotta think right now he is plotting a a move to compete with Fallon, just because NBC is being a dick, as usual.

There will be those on Team CoCo who will find it insulting that Fallon is considered a worthy substitute for the famously screwed former redhead of late night, but regardless of what you think of Fallon, it’s not a bad bet that he might find wider appeal. Fallon is the Buzzfeed of late night. He’s goofy, sweet, accessible, and can work the hell out of your nostalgia or a gimmick—preferably both at the same time—to the point where you end up watching even though you know he’s manipulating you, and not even bothering to be clever about it. Please see the “Saved by the Bell” reunion and the “History of Rap,” which is now on its fourth edition. Conan is the Onion AV Club. Clever, heady, literate, with relatively narrow appeal. The demo in modern America wants cats who look like the “Melrose Place” cast, and Fallon will give it to them.

And, I’ll never watch one of their shows live, anyway.

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By next year, there will be no such thing as televisions or shows or periods of time we call “tonight” anyway.

How come? Are we going to get hit by a small meteor or something worse; a big meteor?

SparkPlug on March 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM

I like Conan.

Sherman1864 on March 20, 2013 at 10:14 PM

I mean really who cares?

I sure don’t…

*swoosh*

Scrumpy on March 20, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Fallon’s better than Letterman at the same time slot,but not much

Drill and Fill on March 20, 2013 at 10:15 PM

I would say “who cares” but I guess it’s a big deal?

Jackalope on March 20, 2013 at 10:15 PM

The only things certain about the new format are the ban on any jokes about the emperor and that the first show guest will be Barky’s favorite NBC shill Brian Williams.

viking01 on March 20, 2013 at 10:16 PM

PS,I can’t think of a single show I watch on NBC, except Leno

Drill and Fill on March 20, 2013 at 10:16 PM

It’s a no brainer. Leno never cut through like Carson, he’s only winning because Letterman has sucked for years.

AYNBLAND on March 20, 2013 at 10:18 PM

Who is this Letterman character that is spoken of? Leno, I know him. Letterman? Sounds like some Bill Murray bad movie.

Limerick on March 20, 2013 at 10:19 PM

They’re all big lefties, right? I guess Leno is not as bad as Fallon and Letterman, but the bar’s pretty low.

Jackalope on March 20, 2013 at 10:20 PM

Haven’t watch the Tonight Show since Carson retired.

Meh.

Curtiss on March 20, 2013 at 10:21 PM

Love his Cars

Drill and Fill on March 20, 2013 at 10:21 PM

The Tonight Show is still on?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 20, 2013 at 10:22 PM

…*yawn*…

KOOLAID2 on March 20, 2013 at 10:22 PM

I hope he does the Ben & Jerry’s song with Ladysmith Snack Mambazo again!

:)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 20, 2013 at 10:23 PM

I still think NBC is going after Leno because he has made actual jokes about Obama. Can’t have anyone go off the reservation on his own network.

Cindy Munford on March 20, 2013 at 10:23 PM

Even Carson admitted that the Tonight Show after the monologue was mostly background noise during sex….

viking01 on March 20, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Letterman – thats that movie with Kevin Costner, no?

Curtiss on March 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM

How many late night shows do we need?

I haven’t watched any of these things in a decade… and I’m under 30 years old.

I only watch them in clips linked on the internet… and the only funny ones I see are from Kimmel.

ninjapirate on March 20, 2013 at 10:25 PM

I can’t stand Jimmy Fallon.

bluegill on March 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM

I loved Johnny Carson. Leno is pretty good.

KCB on March 20, 2013 at 10:27 PM

I can’t stand Jimmy Fallon.

bluegill on March 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM

No one can.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 20, 2013 at 10:27 PM

viking01 on March 20, 2013 at 10:24 PM

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Cindy Munford on March 20, 2013 at 10:28 PM

I have a job. I sleep at night.

wolly4321 on March 20, 2013 at 10:29 PM

If I have to rank the late night hosts… though I never ever watch them…

Kimmel > Conan > Leno > Ferguson > Fallon > Crypt Keeper > the late Tom Snyder of the late late show with Tom Snyder > Letterman

Letterman used to be my favorite for the first few years when he moved to CBS… but he his act got really boring…

ninjapirate on March 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM

Kimmel > Conan > Leno > Ferguson > Fallon > Crypt Keeper > the late Tom Snyder of the late late show with Tom Snyder > Letterman

ninjapirate on March 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM

What about Joe Franklin?

Or was he on earlier? I don’t know, I never saw his show live, but I still have scary memories about it :)

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 20, 2013 at 10:35 PM

I can’t stand Jimmy Fallonbluegill.

bluegill on March 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM

…cracked record…cracked head crackhead!

KOOLAID2 on March 20, 2013 at 10:36 PM

ninjapirate on March 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM

He so danged mean.

Cindy Munford on March 20, 2013 at 10:39 PM

I can’t stand Jimmy Fallon.
bluegill on March 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM

See, we have another thing in common.

Rusty Allen on March 20, 2013 at 10:39 PM

Used to watch Leno and Conan back to back. Might watch Leno couple times a year, don’t like Fallon at all, so have never watched. Kimmel clips on Youtube are sometimes funny.

El_Terrible on March 20, 2013 at 10:40 PM

Letterman was tolerable during the early 1980s as long as he realized he was a clown. The instant he became full of himself as some sort of political and issues seer (and Clintoons go-to hack during f-ups) he became just another clown after midnight.

viking01 on March 20, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Fallon is such an up front leftist that I can’t watch him anymore.

MTF on March 20, 2013 at 10:47 PM

Conan is the Onion AV Club. Clever, heady, literate, with relatively narrow appeal.

That’s why the commercials for Conan that I see almost every night is a clip with a fart, d*ck or boob joke.

Clark1 on March 20, 2013 at 10:49 PM

Meet the new liberal ahole, same as the old liberal ahole.

Big winner -Jimmy Kimmel.

slickwillie2001 on March 20, 2013 at 10:51 PM

Kimmel > Conan > Leno > Ferguson > Fallon > Crypt Keeper > the late Tom Snyder of the late late show with Tom Snyder > Letterman

ninjapirate on March 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM

You folks ever wondered how many points in a presidential election this team is worth to the democratics?

slickwillie2001 on March 20, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Fallon: the late night show host for the newly established, 21st century Idiocracy.
The perfect guy to put the low information, Julia nation to sleep.

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on March 20, 2013 at 11:02 PM

I can’t stand Jimmy Fallon.

bluegill on March 20, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Bluegill and I do not see eye to eye on the whole matter of Sarah Palin and establishment Republicans.

But Bluegill and I see eye to eye as clear as day on Jimmy Fallon.

He is a no-talent hack.

Right Mover on March 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Meh. Fallon’s not Tonight Show material.

I miss Carson.

changer1701 on March 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM

I still think NBC is going after Leno because he has made actual jokes about Obama. Can’t have anyone go off the reservation on his own network.

Cindy Munford on March 20, 2013 at 10:23 PM

He also savaged NBC’s fifth-place performance during the February sweeps, which apparently angered the new suits at Comcast. And it wasn’t their co-owned Telemundo that beat NBC. It was Univision.

But the network became a joke itself when, to satisfy local ad inventory, one of their key affiliates booted their prime-time comedy lineup for a freaking Matlock rerun.

Myron Falwell on March 20, 2013 at 11:13 PM

Fallon puts the “S” in Sucks. Can’t stand him.

Texyank on March 20, 2013 at 11:19 PM

As for moving the Tonight Show back to New York, well, NBC no longer owns the old Burbank studio complex. In fact, NBC was to no longer have any presence in the “Burbank Studios” after Leno left in 2009, with Conan doing the show from the Universal Studios complex. Obviously Zucker’s meddling kept NBC’s presence at that place longer than anticipated…

Depending on how they handle “Late Night,” that show could wind up at the Universal studios. Would make sense if Carson Daly is elevated to host, or if they give it to someone like Joel McHale or Chelsea Handler.

Myron Falwell on March 20, 2013 at 11:20 PM

Meh. Fallon’s not Tonight Show material.

I miss Carson.

changer1701 on March 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM

From one of the articles at Drudge: In a Fallon cover story for the April issue of GQ, Lorne Michaels confirmed that a shift is underway: “I’m not allowed to say it — yet. But I think there’s an inevitability to it. He’s the closest to [Johnny] Carson that I’ve seen of this generation.”

That makes me gag. Fallon is not worthy to sniff Carson’s jockstrap. It’s like saying Adam Sandler is the next Laurence Olivier.

slickwillie2001 on March 20, 2013 at 11:23 PM

Myron Falwell on March 20, 2013 at 11:13 PM

I heard that to. Remember when every candidate Obama campaigned with lost? I think it’s safe to say it’s even happening at the corporate level. Of course it seems to be a prerequisite that the taxpayers give these corporations a bunch of money before they bite the dust.

Cindy Munford on March 20, 2013 at 11:24 PM

Craig Ferguson is much funnier than all of them. I’d like to see him get a shot.

HopeHeFails on March 20, 2013 at 11:32 PM

I thought they tried this with Conan? Guess they never learn.

Shows how smart the network people are. Get rid of the top rated person for some silly azz.

Barred on March 20, 2013 at 11:37 PM

Craig Ferguson is much funnier than all of them. I’d like to see him get a shot.

HopeHeFails on March 20, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Geoff Peterson > all humanoid announcers

Because CBS Cares.

Myron Falwell on March 20, 2013 at 11:41 PM

Which one does that rap video on you tube, cause that was kind of funny?

Who watches TV anymore?

“Wipeout” / NFL / Food Network maybe, anything else on a regular basis?…..just online, and for cheaper than cable or dish.

PappyD61 on March 20, 2013 at 11:47 PM

Fallon is not worthy to sniff Carson’s jockstrap.

slickwillie2001 on March 20, 2013 at 11:23 PM

Sure he is. It’s pretty ripe by now. But only that.

None of them come close to Carson. None of them are even close to Joan Rivers, still today at 105 or however old she is.

Of the sorry lot of them, Conan is the funniest – but that is “damning with faint praise” in the strictest sense.

Adjoran on March 20, 2013 at 11:51 PM

Fallon won’t stand a chance and they will beg Jay to come back. I don’t even watch Leno. But nobody watches Fallon unless they are too sleepy to grab the remote.

MechanicalBill on March 20, 2013 at 11:52 PM

Conan is the Onion AV Club. Clever, heady, literate, with relatively narrow appeal.

That’s why the commercials for Conan that I see almost every night is a clip with a fart, d*ck or boob joke.

Clark1 on March 20, 2013 at 10:49 PM

Conan can be hilarious, but mostly is lame. I’d estimate he’s brilliant maybe 10% of the time, but the other 90% is just mildly entertaining.

Jay Leno is a lot more even. Funnier than Conan and the others 90% of the time, but mostly without the flashes of brilliance. (Although his “Jaywalking” segments were second to none.)

And that’s why you find Conan and the others more widely available on internet clips, but Leno keeps topping them on actual TV. On TV, you have to have quantity as well as quality.

Obviously, Your Mileage May Vary. But I think there’s a reason why Leno keeps winning the late nights even when everyone keeps talking about the newer ones. I’ve always loved Conan, but there’s a reason why Conan’s show always keeps the monologue very brief, while Leno’s show expanded the monologue to be about twice as long as everyone else’s.

There Goes The Neighborhood on March 21, 2013 at 12:06 AM

I don’t watch any talk show but the bits I’ve seen from Jimmy Kimmel like “tell your kids you ate their Halloween candy” (it’s very funny, with one little girl saying “It’s all right. But next year we’ll share“) seem the funniest and this Fallon guy seems like an Obama suck up. Most of the crap I’ve seen from him for a second or two have been on this website.

Marcus on March 21, 2013 at 12:14 AM

I like Conan and Jimmy Kimmel. Just the monologues & skits, generally not the guests.

22044 on March 21, 2013 at 12:21 AM

Fallon is the Buzzfeed of late night.

He’s a hack? Oh, sorry you weren’t done:

He’s goofy, sweet, accessible, and can work the hell out of your nostalgia or a gimmick—preferably both at the same time—to the point where you end up watching even though you know he’s manipulating you, and not even bothering to be clever about it.

Yeah. I like sucker punches and being manipulated by a heavy-handed clod, but that’s why I don’t watch these shows and wouldn’t care if they dropped off the face of the earth. Sorry…. carry on.

kim roy on March 21, 2013 at 12:35 AM

Wonder if he’ll bring the racist Roots with him. Quit watching fallon his first month. Couldn’t understand him. Talked like he was sucking on something.

msupertas on March 21, 2013 at 12:38 AM

kim roy on March 21, 2013 at 12:35 AM

Should be more clear – not hassling MKH for the post, just that these idiots (like Jon Stewart) are given more importance and reverence than they should. That’s my issue, not MKH or her post, which could be construed as heckling.

kim roy on March 21, 2013 at 12:39 AM

Two words: Fallon sucks.

The arts are dying. Comedy is dying. Music is dead. The written word is dying despite the rabid efforts of the blogosphere (perhaps a resurrection is near). Late night television is a vast wasteland. If we live in a world where the “50% more cash” guy will take over the once cherished role occupied by the great Johnny Carson, I no longer want to live on this erff.

TheLoudTalker on March 21, 2013 at 12:55 AM

when I’m in the right mood to watch late night talk show types, I like Conan. I like absurd humor and he excels at that.

Haven’t watched Leno in years. Letterman the same. I do like that Craig Ferguson dude though.

And honestly, I liked The Daily Show. But Jon Stewart gets a little hard to take night after night. So unless his guest is someone I’d like to see, I don’t watch.

mjk on March 21, 2013 at 12:55 AM

Haven’t watched any of this stuff since I bought a DVD player.

trigon on March 21, 2013 at 1:16 AM

Ferguson is funny, the rest not so much, I like he’s perverted humor, and his guest like him

Drill and Fill on March 21, 2013 at 1:35 AM

And Ferguson is proud to be an American

Drill and Fill on March 21, 2013 at 1:36 AM

Lesbian Row

Drill and Fill on March 21, 2013 at 1:39 AM

Ferguson is funny, the rest not so much, I like he’s perverted humor, and his guest like him

Drill and Fill on March 21, 2013 at 1:35 AM

-
Agreed. Ferguson, is spontaneous, original, unpredictable and funny. How does he stay connected with Letterman?

diogenes on March 21, 2013 at 6:57 AM

Much adieu about nothing.

None of these hacks can hold a candle to Johnny Carson.

Bitter Clinger on March 21, 2013 at 7:47 AM

Perhaps it isn’t the sucky hosts and they do suck. Perhaps like print media, the typewriter, or buggy whip the whole format has become archaic.

Happy Nomad on March 21, 2013 at 7:49 AM

I don’t get it. I don’t understand why anyone thinks that Fallon is funny

Sporty1946 on March 21, 2013 at 8:32 AM

I hit the gym at 5:00 AM so for me late night comedy is 8:30 Duck Dynasty re-runs on A&E. And Uncle Cy is funnier than any of those late night guys.

tommyboy on March 21, 2013 at 8:42 AM

I don’t watch any talk show but the bits I’ve seen from Jimmy Kimmel like “tell your kids you ate their Halloween candy” (it’s very funny, with one little girl saying “It’s all right. But next year we’ll share“) seem the funniest and this Fallon guy seems like an Obama suck up. Most of the crap I’ve seen from him for a second or two have been on this website.

Marcus on March 21, 2013 at 12:14 AM

Everyone’s mileage may vary, I suppose. Personally, that kinda crap is why I’d never watch Kimmel’s show. Encouraging that whole “parade your kids in potentially embarrassing situations on national television to satisfy your craving for 15 minutes of fame” attitude absolutely disgusts me.

Shump on March 21, 2013 at 8:46 AM

I don’t get it. I don’t understand why anyone thinks that Fallon is funny

Sporty1946 on March 21, 2013 at 8:32 AM

No one does. But NBC thinks he’s “young and hip.” He gets buzz on the Internet. And that, today, is more important than, y’know, actual ratings, which Leno consistently delivers.

Shump on March 21, 2013 at 8:47 AM

How come? Are we going to get hit by a small meteor or something worse; a big meteor?

SparkPlug on March 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM

I suspect it’s because most people will be streaming TV shows and movies through services like Netflix. I hardly ever watch regular television anymore…and I’m planning to stream baseball this year with MLB.tv, which means I don’t even need cable TV for sports.

I can’t say I miss it, either.

As for the Tonight Show, the last time I watched regularly, I was a teenager with no car living at home, and Carson was on. That said, NBC is being incredibly stupid by moving Leno out…but it won’t change their ratings as far as I’m concerned; I wouldn’t watch either way.

I wonder if Fallon will continue with his putrid little tricks, like playing “Lying #ss B!tch” for Michelle Bachmann. I always thought the Three Stooges theme fit her better. She could have made a joint appearance with Santorum and that 999 guy.

DRayRaven on March 21, 2013 at 8:54 AM

The late night talk show ceased to exist once Carson retired.

Steve Allen was a pioneer who set the template for the idea and what a late night talk show could and should be.

Jack Paar was a brilliant monologist with an eye for the sometime avant garde.

Carson was a superb interviewer, host and spotter of future talent.

Jack Deth on March 21, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Wow, NBC is making a huge mistake here – not with Jimmy Fallon, but with moving the Tonight Show to New York. That will leave Jimmy Kimmel all alone in Los Angeles, with his finger on the truer pulse of middle America as well as better access to the Hollywood stars that everyone wants to see.

Johnny Carson and Jay Leno are both liberals, but their audiences have not been. This has kept them grounded in humor that has the broadest appeal, and is why their ratings always beat Letterman’s. New York City is a hothouse of lefty politics and culture. Fallon reflects this perfectly on his show, which is fine for the late-late night crowd. But this style of humor will not pull in the ratings NBC wants at 11:30.

Jimmy Kimmel will quickly end up ruling this time slot.

rockmom on March 21, 2013 at 10:57 AM

There is a demographic that think’s Fallon’s funny. He is . . . for about 30 seconds. I won’t even talk about O’Brian and Letterman. My dog’s funnier when he snores.

Leno’s about 50% funny, but when he leaves NBC, so will I. The local news will probably take a hit, too. And heaven knows that they’ve got nothing else (except sports) to watch.

And if Leno lands somewhere else, that’s where I’ll be.

EdmundBurke247 on March 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM

There is a demographic that think’s Fallon’s funny. He is . . . for about 30 seconds. I won’t even talk about O’Brian and Letterman. My dog’s funnier when he snores.

Leno’s about 50% funny, but when he leaves NBC, so will I. The local news will probably take a hit, too. And heaven knows that they’ve got nothing else (except sports) to watch.

And if Leno lands somewhere else, that’s where I’ll be.

EdmundBurke247 on March 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM

That’s an important point there, because local news tends to be the big moneymaker for a tv station. They are the lead-in for the later show because no one wants to miss the opening monologue. They also fiddle with the starting times (ie 11:29pm-11:35pm) to force that behavior.

slickwillie2001 on March 21, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Fallon in…viewers OUT!!

The only worse choice would be Bill Maher!!!

MSNBC will be known as “Monumentally Stupid…Nothing But Communists”!

landlines on March 21, 2013 at 12:37 PM

I like you guys, but I have to disagree about Fallon. And if you’ve never watched his show, but you’re posting that he’s not funny, you have to know that your opinion is uninformed. If the only bits you’ve seen of his are on Hot Air, you’ve obviously not seen a representative sample of his work.

Finally, what people (including me) like about Fallon is that his show is not mean-spirited like Letterman or sometimes Conan. It’s pretty refreshing, actually.

Brad G on March 21, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Brad G., I grant this may be a generational thing, but Fallon annoys me–his style, his persona. I’ve watched enough to know.

Interestingly, I occasionally read recaps of late-night jokes and Fallon usually has one of the funnier quips, which surprised me, since I assumed he would be worst based on my experience watching him.

Regardless, I am not alone on this. Fallon will fail if he gets the reigns of the Tonight Show.

G. Charles on March 21, 2013 at 2:31 PM

I’m a Leno fan. Jay’s had a great run. But he’s far short of Carson.

But Jimmy Fallon may be as talented as Carson was. NBC is right to look toward Fallon, and while Jay is winning the ratings war for now, he may not be attracting the youth that is following the other Jimmy. Moving to Fallon sooner might head some of that off.

EconomicNeocon on March 21, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Absent Leno, the only host capable of conducting a reasonably interesting interview with a variety of guests is Ferguson.

Conan, Letterman, and Fallon are really, really BAD at interviewing: any of them will quickly wreck the show.

The other thing which Carson was good at…and Leno is currently best at (probably not as good as Carson)…is coming up with new “bits” to use on the show. Conan has one bit, which he has already used, and it is boring. Letterman hasn’t had anything new in a decade. Leno uses Las Vegas and other appearances to test his new ideas. Fallon has no imagination or talent with which to create something even mildly interesting. The jury is out on whether Ferguson is capable of creating nes stuff: I get the impression that the CBS folks severely limit him…maybe for good reasons.

If NBC really wanted to survive, they would let Leno design and/or approve the design of their whole evening lineup (not just his show) to make sure it is fresh. Conan and Fallon should be limited to being guests for a maximum of 2 minutes at a time…on other peoples’ shows. And SOMEBODY has to find some competent writers and producers who can either fix or replace the other totally vapid shows which occupy and/or obstruct primetime space.

landlines on March 21, 2013 at 8:15 PM

PS:

Under no circumstances should Ferguson be allowed to do a monologue.

landlines on March 21, 2013 at 8:17 PM

Libtard Fallon is going to replace Leno? Fine, I’ll never ever watch that damn show again so long as that foaming-at-the-mouth Libtard is the host.

CatchAll on March 21, 2013 at 10:56 PM