The search for Leno’s replacement starts anew
December 18, 2012
Stop us if this sounds familiar: NBC is looking for a younger comedian to take over “The Tonight Show,” and it’s considering giving the job to a man whose humor is perfect for late-late night but may not translate to a broader, earlier audience.
No, this isn’t a repeat of the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno debacle circa 2009.
This is a whole new situation. A report out this week claims that NBC is eyeing “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” host Fallon as a replacement for Leno when the latter’s contract expires in two years.
Whether Leno actually wants to go is something else entirely. The last time NBC negotiated his exit, when O’Brien took over three years ago, Leno proved unready to surrender his seat, returning that fall with a disastrous nightly variety show that eventually led to his return to late night and O’Brien’s ouster.
One concern prompting the search for a replacement is that Leno will be competing with the much-younger Jimmy Kimmel on ABC come January, who could pull a more desirable audience to advertisers than Leno, whose viewers are aging.
Fallon, goes NBC’s apparent logic, would pull in a similarly young crowd. He’d also be cheaper than Leno, who took a steep paycut earlier this year when NBC slashed “Tonight’s” budgets.
But NBC must tread carefully. It can’t afford to play out the same disastrous scenario as before, when Leno was clearly uninterested in leaving.
The New York Daily News reports that NBC is also contacting talent agents for comics who could serve as a replacement for Fallon, who himself replaced O’Brien when he transitioned to “Tonight.”
Tags: abc, audience, conan o'brien, jay leno, jay leno replacement, jay leno successor, jimmy fallon, jimmy kimmel, late night, late night with jimmy fallon, nbc, talent, the tonight show, this week, tonight show, viewers, Whether Leno
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