Jimmy Fallon Jokes About Tonight Show Rumors On Late Night
It feels like barely any time at all since NBC's attempt to swap Conan O'Brien in for Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show caused one of the most public and ugly network TV battles in recent memory. Even after the dust settled and O'Brien moved on to a new show on TBS (with a website named for his grassroots support group during the Tonight fiasco), Leno's reputation never quite recovered-- and as the next Tonight Show imbroglio starts up, it looks like it might take him down for good this time.
As you've probably read by now, rumors are swirling that by the start of the 2014-2015 season, Jimmy Fallon will have taken the helm of The Tonight Show, and all from a brand-new studio NBC is planning to construct inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where he currently tapes Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. These plans for a shift come not only in a period when NBC's ratings are as bad as they've ever been, but when Leno won't stop making jokes about them, prompting complaints from none other than NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt. NBC has stood by Leno since the Conan debacle-- and his ratings remain solid, finishing at #1 in the late night spot even in the middle of NBC's terrible February. But Fallon's ratings are solid too, and as a younger host with huge Internet appeal, he's way more equipped to take on the newest competition from ABC now that Jimmy Kimmel has crowded into the 11:35 slot.
As you might expect, a little bit of this behind-the-scenes drama has leaked out in public once again, though not in the way you'd expect. Last night at the beginning of his monologue Fallon made a brief but typically good-hearted reference to the rumors, in the video you can watch at the top of this post. As for Leno? Not a word. Somehow he thought a gonorrhea joke was the right way to kick things off-- and he also made room for another crack about NBC's ratings, comparing the network to extinct species in Jurassic Park. Yes, a Jurassic Park jokes! Jay Leno is very, very hip with the times, you guys:
There has been a lot of fantastic writing about the proposed Fallon-Leno switch these last few days, from Vulture writing about why stability is reason enough to keep Leno in place to Buzzfeed pondering the mass media hatred of Leno despite his strong ratings. It's hard not to feel a strong sense of deja vu, hearing whispers of another Leno ouster and wondering if it's all going to go as terribly as it did last time. When Conan O'Brien was at the center of things, Jimmy Fallon managed to keep his head down and avoid the drama. Sounds like he won't be nearly as lucky this time.
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