The top TV stories that Deadline had this week. Missed ‘em? Now you can check them out anew here:
Leno’s Last Tonight Show’ To Air Feb 6; Staff Paid Until September
By Lisa De Mores – EXCLUSIVE: Jay Leno-hosted Tonight Show will air its last episode on February 6, and, per terms of his …
EXCLUSIVE: Jay Leno-hosted Tonight Show will air its last episode on February 6, and, per terms of his show exit deal with NBC, the cast and crew will be paid until his contract expires in September. Tonight EP Debbie Vickers made the announcement today to staffers at the show, informed sources report. It’s unclear how many crew and staff were at the meeting on the show’s Burbank lot. At one point it was reported Tonight had about 170 total staffers, including some contract workers. NBC declined comment on today’s news.
The announcement isn’t a total surprise. At NBC’s Upfront presentation to advertisers in May, the network officially announced that Jay Leno would end his 22-year run on Tonight Show during the week leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics — which start February 7. NBC also announced Jimmy Fallon would replace him on Monday, February 24, the night after the closing ceremony, followed by the debut of Late Night With Seth Meyers at 12:30 AM. Fallon’s Tonight Show will be broadcast from New York City; Lorne Michaels is exec producing, and Fallon’s Late Night writer Amy Ozols has been named producer.
Speculation On NBC’s Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon Transition Intensifies As Fallon Plans To Move ‘Tonight Show’ To New York
Somehow, another NBC late-night transition has turned into a public drama. And this time, the two hosts involved are not even feuding. The network has found itself in a groundswell of speculation surrounding The Tonight Show host Jay Leno and Late Night‘s Jimmy Fallon. The network is staying mum on its plans, but a few things appear settled: Fallon is poised to replace Leno on The Tonight Show. When he does, he is not expected to copy his predecessor Conan O’Brien’s cross-country move from New York to Los Angeles. I hear Fallon and his producers had been lobbying for staying put in New York. Fallon’s current studio is being renovated, which sources say was part of a planned refurbishing of 30 Rock, and it will likely house the future Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, marking the show’s return to the East Coast after more than four decades in Burbank. Leno’s current contract, which is up in September 2014, will likely be late-night host’s last one. In an interview with GQ, Late Night executive producer Lorne Michaels also hinted at the inevitability of Fallon’s anointment as new Tonight host. “I’m not allowed to say it — yet,” he said. “But I think there’s an inevitability to it,” He added: “He’s the closest to Carson that I’ve seen of this generation.”
With the players and the framework set, the biggest uncertainty in the transition appears to be the exact timing. There is speculation that NBC brass may have settled on an end date for Leno and that Leno and Fallon, who regularly chat on the phone, have discussed the issue in a call initiated by Fallon — though all sides are denying that there is a plan in place. For now, sources at NBC indicate that the network has no plans to announce Leno’s Tonight exit at NBC’s upfront presentation in May, though the rampant speculation may force their hand in the decision-making. An announcement of Leno’s retirement is tied with the introduction of Fallon as new Tonight host, something he has not been contracted for yet. I hear NBC has not started or is in very early stages of making Fallon’s deal for The Tonight Show.
Jay Leno isn’t letting up. On Tuesday night the The Tonight Show With Jay Leno host took another shot at his NBC overlords: “A 28-year-old woman from Serbia has a rare brain condition where she sees everything upside down”, he said in his monologue. “The good news? She’s now been given a job at the White House as President Obama’s economic adviser. Isn’t that crazy and unbelievable? She sees everything upside down. In fact, she thinks NBC is at the top of the ratings!” The joke comes a day after Leno called NBC’s executives “snakes” (watch it below) and brings him back to the target that sparked his recent feud with NBC’s Bob Greenblatt: NBC’s abysmal ratings.
Seems Jimmy Kimmel is still no fan of Jay Leno. “As a comedian, you can’t not have disdain for what he’s done. He totally sold out,” the ABC late night host tells Rolling Stone in the mag’s latest issue. Kimmel, whose decade old Jimmy Kimmel Live, is moving to the 11:35 PM slot on January 8, sticks it to The Tonight Show host various times in the article, which comes out on newsstands today. At one point Kimmel refers to Leno as “a master chef who opened a Burger King.” This latest slam against Leno by Kimmel comes less than three weeks after the ABC host compared the NBC host to Jason from the Friday The 13th horror movies. He also said that “as much as he would like it, Jay Leno can’t stay on television forever,” in reference to rumors of Jimmy Fallon eventually moving up to host The Tonight Show himself. In the Rolling Stone article, Kimmel calls Fallon “a very worthy competitor” for the next generation late night king.
Jimmy Kimmel today said Jay Leno reminds him of Jason from the Friday the 13th horror movies. “Just when you think he’s dead, he comes back,” said the ABC late night host Wednesday on a conference call about his show’s move to 11:35 PM next year. Kimmel was addressing rumors that Jimmy Fallon could replace The Tonight Show host in the next few years. “The fact is that NBC is going to make a decision someday. As much as he would like it, Jay Leno can’t stay on television forever and Jimmy Fallon is the heir apparent,” Kimmel said of his soon-to-be direct rival come January 8, 2013. While Kimmel admitted that he didn’t like what he perceived as Leno scheming against his hero David Letterman over who would take over The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson back in 1992 in the end “Jay’s just another guy doing a TV show.” Kimmel also said that The Tonight Show’s move to a minute earlier at 11:34 PM doesn’t worry him much either. “It tells me that they are a bit concerned,” said Kimmel on a conference call Wednesday. “I’ll be curious to see how long that goes on. That’s a trick designed to bring up their ratings in the first month,” he added. “What really matters is how you do in May and that’s when we’ll know where we stand.”
Kimmel said today that not a lot will change on his show when it moves to 11:35 PM. “It will pretty much be the same show we’ve always been doing,” he said. There’s this idea that you need to broaden the show or make it more wholesome, and I think that is outdated,” he added. “The jokes will remain exactly the same,” he said. “We’re moving 25 minutes earlier. From a Standards and Practices standpoint it’s not a huge difference.”
Talking to Jay Leno tonight, President Obama blamed the bad blood between himself and Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump on youthful “constant run-ins on the soccer field” in Kenya, according to the White House press reports. Earlier today, Trump offered to donate $5 million to Obama’s charity of …
Despite what Mitt Romney thinks, the late-night host really doesn’t hate him. In fact, David Letterman thinks the GOP presidential candidate is “delusional” to believe that and he wants …
SATURDAY UPDATE: Jay Leno’s spokesman has now issued this statement: ”Jay’s foremost concern is for the wonderful people who work for The Tonight Show. He did what was necessary to ensure their well-being.”
BREAKING… EXCLUSIVE… FRIDAY 8:30 PM: NBC insiders tell me The Tonight Show went through ”downsizing” today and that 20 staffers lost their jobs. Others tell me the number is more like 25, and producers were forced to take pay cuts or lose their jobs. I’ve also learned that Jay Leno took what is being described as a “tremendous” pay cut to “save as many people’s jobs as he could”. Leno’s Tonight Show is consistently the #1 late night talk show in both households and demographics, except for some anomalies when Leno does get beaten. And that’s despite the fact that the network’s primetime ratings have been dismal for many years or that Leno himself was harshly criticized by the media for that January 2010 standoff with Conan O’Brien. Even so, The Tonight Show has been and still is a cash cow for NBC. So what happened to merit the downsizing? “I don’t think ad sales are off. I just think the people who bought this company, Comcast, wants to go through everything at NBC and get their money back,” an NBC insider tells me. ”It’s hard to go through those kinds of cuts. It’s more a network issue than a late-night issue. And I would say that Jay doesn’t get credit for digging out of a gigantic hole every single night. He’s a very valuable guy to NBC and someday everyone will understand that. He does a great job.”
The downsizing also comes just 5 days after First Lady Michelle Obama appeared as a guest for the third time on The Tonight Show: high unemployment, job creation, and taxing the rich vs the poor all are issues in the 2012 president campaign. Leno has said publicly that he’s able to bank his entire Tonight Show salary and live on the hefty fees he makes from his hectic personal appearance schedule. Leno’s new salary is reportedly $27M-$30 million a year. He reportedly brings home another $15M-$20M a year from his other gigs.