Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show Is Making Changes Behind The Scenes

Four years into Jimmy Fallon's run as the host of NBC's venerable The Tonight Show, there are no signs of the SNL vet's talk show fatigue. Unfortunately, Fallon's future shenanigans will happen without his longtime late-night writer and producer Mike DiCenzo, whose last episode as a Tonight Show creative aired on Monday night. What's more, the network bosses have possibly found a replacement.

Initially with The Onion, Mike DiCenzo joined Jimmy Fallon's squad in 2008, as the comedian was settling in to take the reins on NBC's Late Night. When Fallon was tapped to replace Jay Leno on The Tonight Show in 2014, DiCenzo followed suit. For the more prominent gig, DiCenzo crafted viral segments like "Wheel of Musical Impressions," so it was fitting that his last episode featured SNL's Melissa Villaseñor tackling a faux Post Malone cover of "Itsy Bitsy Spider."

In a long Twitter thread marking his Tonight Show departure, Mike DiCenzo was very emotional about the career move, and was extremely grateful for everyone who helped him along the way. In his words:

Leaving this show, this staff, and crew, and Jimmy - it's one of the toughest decisions I've ever made, and one I've been grappling with this year. Ultimately, I just felt it was time. And thankfully, Jimmy couldn't have been more supportive or understanding. I'm planning to take the rest of the year off to take a breath and mentally decompress from a decade in late-night. And then, who knows? Maybe a new show. Maybe moving to the woods and writing poetry. Maybe I'll write a Pixar movie about lost luggage trying to find its way home. For now, I am going to savor my last day at the show that I've poured my heart and soul into for 10 years. Everyone on the #FallonTonight staff and crew are geniuses in their fields. But more than that, they're good people. And that's what makes the show so special.

Of course, the always smiling Jimmy Fallon also got some of the focus in Mike DiCenzo's farewell tweets. In one particular post, the producer noted how a pair of the most memorable Tonight Show pop culture mash-ups were created on simple whims.

And as for @jimmyfallon, what can I say? You're like a brother to me. You gave me a shot 10 years ago, and I hope I made you proud. Having you as a muse is a writers' dream. I could think of an idea like 'Neil Young sings the Fresh Prince theme,' and you turn it into art. Or I could say, 'Let's reunite the cast of Saved By The Bell,' and even though it took us 6 years, we did it. Writing and producing that bit was easily the best day of my life. And it wouldn't have happened without you.

It will certainly be interesting to see if Mike DiCenzo's absence is immediately felt during The Tonight Show's upcoming episodes. Gerard Bradford and Katie Hockmeyer, the two producers who have been running The Tonight Show alongside DiCenzo since 2016, will remain in their current positions. Hockmeyer handles the production side of things, while Bradford leads the show's creative front.

As far as Mike DiCenzo's replacement goes, THR is reporting that former Tonight Show executive producer Jim Bell is in discussions to rejoin the late night staple. Bell is currently the president of production and programming for NBC's Olympics coverage, and he'd be taking over EP and showrunner duties if his new Tonight Show deal works out.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights on NBC at 11:30 p.m. ET. To see what else primetime has to offer, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.