Jay Leno, longtime host of NBC's "The Tonight Show," will step down early next year and be replaced by Jimmy Fallon, currently the host of NBC's "Late Night," ending a long, successful and occasionally turbulent run for Mr. Leno that was briefly interrupted when NBC tried moving him him to 10 p.m.
As part of the transition in spring 2014, "The Tonight Show" will be returning to New York, NBC said today in an e-mailed statement, confirming developments that had been trickling out into the press over the last few weeks. Lorne Michaels will be executive producer.
The announcement, expected after NBC designated Mr. Fallon as Mr. Leno's heir, marks a changing of the guard at the most-watched show in late-night television. Mr. Leno, 62, who had been critical of NBC management recently as stories surfaced of an imminent change, said today that he supported the transition. "Congratulations Jimmy," Mr. Leno, host for 22 years, said in the statement. "I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy. If you need me, I'll be at the garage."
Observers writing on Twitter, however, pointed out that Mr. Leno made supportive statements when NBC said it would replace him with Conan O'Brien in 2009:
"The timing was right to plan for my successor." --Jay Leno, 2004 nytimes.com/2004/09/27/bus…— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) April 3, 2013
NBC returned "Tonight" to Mr. Leno soon after; Mr. O'Brien now holds court in late-night on TBS.
Mr. Leno and Mr. Fallon performed a duet earlier this week playing on the rumors of the coming change:
~ Bloomberg News with Ad Age staff ~