Fallon Closes In on ‘Tonight’ Takeover With New Contract: Report

Jimmy Fallon (Photo: NBC)

Jimmy Fallon has signed a new contract with NBC that virtually guarantees he’ll take over “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno, according to a report on the Hollywood Reporter Web site.

The story gives almost no details on Fallon’s new deal — its duration, his salary and the like — but it emphasizes that a takeover of “Tonight” is a big part of the pact. Presumably, as THR and others have been reporting over the last few weeks, Fallon will be installed as the new host of “The Tonight Show” some time in 2014.

However, there are conflicting reports about the timing of the takeover. The first stories on NBC’s succession plan — the ones that began appearing early last month — sketched a scenario in which Leno would get a full, final farewell season from September 2013 to May 2014. After that, the Fallon era would start some time in summer 2014 leading up to an “official” launch of the new “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” in September of that year. And, of course, part of the plan still seems to be moving the show from L.A. to New York.

But more recent reports have NBC brass pressing for the takeover to take place in February 2014, just after NBC’s coverage of the 2014 winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia. That way, NBC could heavily promote the new “Fallon” show during the Olympics.

Leno’s contract, however, is reportedly not set to expire until September 2014, and NBC will have to continue paying him up through that date whether he’s on TV or not.

Our take: Let Jay have his final farewell season, for heaven’s sake. The man kept “The Tonight Show” No. 1 in the ratings for 20 years. It’s the least NBC can do for him.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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