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Ed Driscoll

Jay Leno Reported Out at The Tonight Show

March 20th, 2013 - 7:04 pm

“All eyes will be on Jay Leno’s Tonight show tonight,” Roger Friedman writes at Show Biz 411. “With one hour to go before Wednesday night’s taping, NBC sent Leno a clear message and used the media to do it”:

The Drudge Report is blaring “Fallon In, Leno Out” as GQ magazine released a special issue with heir apparent Jimmy Fallon on the cover. The Hollywood Reporter seized on a quote from Fallon producer Lorne Michaels that “Jimmy Fallon” is the closest thing he’s seen to a Johnny Carson. Wow. (I think Fallon is more like Jack Paar or Steve Allen frankly.) The New York Times’ expert on this subject, Bill Carter, followed with a story about a Fallon Tonight show moving to New York. Leno, with a quick trigger temper, will be exploding at these statements. With hints that he may be forced out by February 2014, Leno is sure to blow a gasket. When The “Tonight” show begins taping at 4pm Pacific, 7 Eastern, look for Tweets etc about his monologue. Yikes.

The Hollywood Reporter adds:

[An] announcement is expected to be made at the May upfront presentation to advertisers. With Fallon expected to launch as host in September 2014, Tonight will move from Los Angeles to New York, according to sources.

In a Fallon cover story for the April issue of GQ, 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.”

NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt and his late night and alternative chief Paul Telegdy are said to be actively looking for a Fallon replacement at 12:35 a.m. One possibility is another Michaels protege, Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live.

If the move goes through, presumably it would make Lorne Michaels, who created NBC’s Saturday Night Live in the mid-1970s, the producer (likely executive producer) of The Tonight Show, a role — or at least a time slot — he’s coveted for decades. Although Michaels describing Fallon as “the closest to Carson that I’ve seen of this generation” is more than a little ironic, considering the bad blood between two camps after SNL debuted in 1975, according to Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad in their mid-1980s book Saturday Night:

Carson’s distaste for NBC’s other late-night show (shared by many if not most comedians of his generation) was well known within the network. It surfaced publicly in an August 1976 interview with Tom Shales of The Washington Post, when Carson blasted Saturday Night for relying on drug jokes and cruelty. He also dismissed the cast as hopeless amateurs who couldn’t “ad-lib a fart at a bean-eating contest.” Saturday Night retaliated the following season with some anti-Carson jokes on Weekend Update. In one, reporting that Carson had announced plans to do the Tonight Show live instead of on videotape, anchorwoman Jane Curtin noted that he had been “doing the show dead for the past fifteen years.”

Carson’s mid-century middlebrow cool eventually lost its sway over NBC, as Michaels’ counterculture-inspired brand of snark became the dominant archetype at the network and its spin-off, MSNBC. While Carson was very much a political liberal (“Paul Ehrlich, Gore Vidal, Carl Sagan, Madalyn Murray O’Hair”  was a recurring leitmotif for Carson describing his favorite “intellectual” guests” in his late-’70s New Yorker profile), he was smart enough not to wear his politics on his sleeve when performing his monologues. SNL took a very different approach to GOP presidents; as Michaels’ ex-wife and a writer on SNL said when Gerald Ford’s press secretary hosted an early episode of SNL, “The President’s watching. Let’s make him cringe and squirm.”

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Top Rated Comments   
Leno started insulting Obama, that was his one and only mistake.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (27)
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If Jay Leno goes, I will stop watching the Tonight Show.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When TV went digital I donated my 13 inch GE color set from 1990 to a recycler raising money for a children's hospital ward. But I love Jay Leno's Garage on YouTube. He really does know cars, he ad libs well with guests and even does author interviews. And his collection should be left to the Smthsonian. As for show biz -- its rough unprincipled and left wing, and increasingly unimaginative. He's done it mostly by dent of hard work and pesistence. Pretty good for a guy condemned to the food services industry by his high school counselor. And he's dyslexic and can now afford a second hobby -- collecting antiquarian books. And apparently his collection is large and valuable. Conan's Harvard schtick is getting old. Fallon won't age well since his left wing nastiness is leavened by his youthful and innocent appearance. And let's face it, it's all mostly bs in the end from Letterman right across the country to the left coast. At some point the world which consumes our crap culture by the chicken bucket full will throw it all up -- and we should follow their example.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Leno has boasted of being an equal opportunity offender, and once upon a time he was. He lampooned Bill Clinton just as effectively as he did George W. Bush.
But Leno drank the pro-Obama Kool-Aide just like everyone else in Hollywood. I stopped watching Leno when he continued with the gratuitous Sarah Palin insults long after the 2008 election even when she was not in the news for anything, while Obama was given a complete free pass. Maybe Leno has had a change of heart, but it seems to be too little too late.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No room for humor from the 50 yard line,the game now favors scoring only from the Far away team.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Jay Leno is an entertainer -a comic- a bon vivant, car lover,cat lover, fun lover. NBC still does not get it- it tried this with Leno before- moving him to 1o p.m. slot- then paying big bucks to get rid of the Redhead. There is only one Jay Leno- and he will surface to beat the 'Kindergarten Michaelmans' in ratings elsewhere.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Good grief, the last decent SNL round was what ... 35 years ago?!? Michaels will be 69 this year; not that age trumps comedic instincts, but *c'mon* ...

“Younger, hipper� demographic, indeed. Late night has been on fumes since the late '80s. I'm surprised anyone cares any more.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I just don't like Fallon much. I wish they would just go with Seth Meyers right off. If it doesn't work out, move on until someone sticks.
They may find another natural like Lauer when he first came on the scene. I don't like Matt's politics, but he is pretty good on his feet.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When anyone loses an audience, they get shrill or shriller. I think it is a good sign for the rest of us. Remember how bad lefty radio did? Well lefty tv is headed the same direction: more noise smaller to vanishing audience.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Another show I won't be watching after Jay leaves..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They should have kept Conan. Leno is hoist by his own petard. He used NBC to worm his way back into his old job when his new show tanked, and shafted O'brien as a result.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That is not how I see it. Conan gave an ultimatum to NBC: Give me the Tonight Show or I leave. So they promised him the show thinking that Leno was old and stale but when Conan took over the ratings dived below Letterman and way way below Leno's old ratings. When they gave the show back to Leno, the ratings went back up and eventually they became (and stayed) higher than Letterman's. That seems to be common sense and I do not see where Conan got screwed. He gave the ultimatum but he could not deliver the goods.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, when Conan renewed his deal with NBC in 2004, he put a clause in his contract: if NBC didn't offer him the Tonight Show at the end of this contract, they would pay him a penalty (somewhere between 40-60 mil). NBC, figuring in that five year period that Leno would retire, agreed to this. Then when 2009 rolled around, Leno showed no signs of wanting to quit and his ratings were still good (and still better than Lettermans) NBC was stuck. So instead of paying Conan and sending him on his way (to possibly compete with the tonight show) they pushed Jay aside and gave Conan the Tonight Show. NBC was greedy. They could have stuck with Leno, but they wanted to keep Conan and not pay him the penalty they promised.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Exactly.
By all accounts, Jay Leno is a jerk from hell.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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