Sunday, March 3, 2013

Leno out, Fallon in, says new 'youth movement' report

A rumor from mid-December, which stated that NBC was going to replace "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon has risen again, some two and a half months later. On Sunday, sources said the same thing as in December: Leno out, Fallon in.

The earlier report didn't even point directly at Leno. Instead, it came via various talent agents who said that they were quietly contacted by NBC in terms of hoping to find a new "Late Night" host who will eventually take over Fallon’s 12:35 a.m. slot.

Two and two seemed to equal four, though. In other words, while it didn't focus on Leno, it was pretty easy to figure things out.

In the new report, it's more concrete. Sources said that NBC is planning to announce in May that this will be Jay Leno’s last season hosting the "Tonight Show."

Leno's contract expires in 2014. He seems willing to negotiate, though. His current deal, worth $15 million a year, was cut 50 percent in 2012 when Leno volunteered for the slashing.

It seems, though, that this move may be less about money and more about demographics. Fallon is 24 years younger than Leno. ABC moved Jimmy Kimmel, 45, to 11:35 p.m. last month, switching places with “Nightline,” in another moved designed to attract the coveted 18-49 demographic.

If it sounds familiar, it is. In 2009, NBC made two moves: it replaced Jay Leno with "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien, while at the same time giving Leno his own nightly show which aired at 10 p.m.

In a way, it appeared to be the best of both worlds. Conan O'Brien received a promotion after 16 years of backing up Leno. Meanwhile, Leno stayed on NBC.

However, it instead turned out to be the worst of both worlds. Both moves failed. Three years ago, NBC gave "The Tonight Show" back to Leno, while dismissing O'Brien in the process. O'Brien now hosts a late-night show, "Conan," on TBS.

The similarity, giving the current "Late Night" host, Jimmy Fallon, Leno's gig, is uncanny. Could a similar failure happen, if that move was made?

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