Jay Leno Leaving The Tonight Show?

Jay Leno

By Dawn Cranfield

Is Jay Leno Really Leaving The Tonight Show?

Will They Really Move it from Burbank to New York City? The Loss of a Legend

It has been rumored that NBC is planning to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon at the end of next year.  Leno, the host of The Tonight Show, would be replaced by the younger Fallon from Late Night who is currently averaging two-thirds of Leno’s viewership.

While there has been no official word from NBC, Leno seems to be taking the news to heart; his monologues have become increasingly brazen when referring to the brass at his network.  Last Friday, Leno told several jokes regarding his impending replacement.

“Doctors in Canada were shocked after pulling a three-inch knife blade from the back of a 32-year old man. The knife had been in there for three years! Imagine that, the guy had a knife in his back for three years. He must’ve worked at NBC too. I was stunned by that.” (insidetv.ew.com)

Leno went on to “jest” about his situation by making the following remarks, “Have you heard about this alleged feud that I’m having with NBC? I think it’s going to be OK. This is real: I had dinner last night with a bunch of NBC executives. To make it up to me, what they did, they are sending my wife and I on an all expenses paid Carnival cruise. How about that? So it looks like it’s going to be OK. Fantastic!” (insidetv.ew.com)

According to sources, Friday’s monologue followed a Thursday dinner with executives so Leno may have been unofficially revealing

the network’s plans for his future.

Leno began hosting The Tonight Show in 1992 until he was infamously replaced by Conan O’Brien in 2009 for one year.  When that failed to work out the way executives had hoped, he was brought back in 2010.

Currently, NBC is the lowest rated major network; however, Leno is the top rated late-night host.

ADULTS 18-49

NBC “Tonight,” 0.8 rating
CBS “Late Show,” 0.7
ABC “Kimmel,” 0.7*
NBC “Late Night,” 0.5
CBS “Late Late Show,” 0.4
NBC “Last Call,” 0.3


NBC “Tonight,” 3.5 million viewers
CBS “Late Show,” 3.1 million viewers
ABC “Kimmel,” 2.6 million viewers*
NBC “Late Night,” 1.7 million viewers
CBS “Late Late Show,” 1.5 million viewers

The Tonight Show has been a staple of American television since 1953 (with a few kinks here and there), and while it did start out in New York, it feels like a failure to take it away from Burbank.

“I’m still trying to make sense of it,” says one late-night insider not affiliated with NBC. “I don’t understand it on many levels. I don’t understand why a network doing so badly looks at the one part that’s winning and says, ‘Let’s create chaos there.’ They already created a s–t storm at the Today show. Why would they want to create drama in late night?”  (insidetv.ew.com)

I guess we will all just have to tune in to see what unfolds next.

Jimmy Fallon
Jimmy Fallon

Meanwhile, if Leno does leave, he certainly has options for his retirement.  He could return to his stand-up comedy routines, drive around one of his fabulous vehicles or motorcycles, or just relax and enjoy life like his predecessor, Johnny Carson.

“Carson did continue writing jokes for his friends (the monologue was what he missed most about his show) and occasionally faxed some over to Letterman, who he favored over Leno, without expecting any recognition.” (usnews.com)