When NBC sent out its weekly Tonight Show listings yesterday, there was a curious lack of guests for November 19. Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite have the music gig, but there wasn’t a headliner. Now we know why. The network spilled to the AP today that President George W. Bush will make his fourth appearance on the Jay Leno-hosted show that night, taking about life after the White House. It’s a solid get for the show, as the former commander-in-chief has kept relatively quiet since leaving office in 2009, rarely giving extended interviews. He most recently sat with Leno in November 2010. Not a bad November sweep for The Tonight Show thus far, politically speaking: Tea Party champion Sen. Ted Cruz made his debut on the late-night circuit with Leno this past Friday.
Jimmy Fallon says his Tonight Show will be “the same show” as he’s doing now as Late Night. “I’m not going to change anything,” Fallon said while visiting the NBC station in the Orlando market. “It’s more eyeballs watching but it’s the same show.” On the other hand, Fallon also told the TV critic for the Orlando Sentinel that what triggered the Tonight show hand-off to him (scheduled for February to coincide with the 2014 Winter Olympics) was a call he got from Jay Leno saying, “I think I’m ready.” NBC, however, tells it diferently. NBC told Wall Street Journal in September 2012 there was no date for Leno’s exit, then, after vigorously denying March press reports NBC planned to replace Leno with Fallon, and after announcing in May that Leno would leave Tonight the week leading up to to the Winter Olympics and Fallon would take over shortly thereafter, this past July NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt acknowledged discussions about moving Jay out had begun as soon as Greenblatt joined NBC in January 2011. That puts it about 10 months after Jay returned to the Tonight hosting gig, after Conan O’Brien flamed out in the late-night ratings (and Leno in his primetime strip), and local NBC stations complained.
Fallon is quoted in the Sentinel as saying, “As soon as I got Late Night, I called Jay and said, ‘I want to let you know I want to start on the right foot. I respect you.’ I’ve been a guest on the show numerous times. I said, ‘I’m not gunning for your job. I’m not trying to plot anything. Whenever you’re ready to step down, let me know. But I’m happy at 12:30.’ ” But wait, when Fallon got Late Night, Leno didn’t have a job for Fallon to gun for at NBC. Fallon was announced as the guy who would replace O’Brien on Late Night in May 2008, and he officially debuted in March 2009. NBC had announced back in 2004 that Leno would be stepping down from Tonight in 2009; he left on May 29 of that year.
Jay Leno is readying to exit stage left from NBC’s Tonight Show next February. So Adam Sandler was a guest Thursday and offered a little unsolicited advice about Leno’s post-Tonight plans. Of course, Sandler doesn’t mention that the problem is that Fox would have to get clearance for any late-night show from the affiliates who get to keep all the ad revenue from their late local news. Fox then might have to compensate them for any lost revenue. In other words, it’s complicated. Read the transcript after the jump:
Lorne Michaels Says He’s Not Leaving ‘SNL’ Anytime Soon But Stays Quiet About ‘Tonight Show’ At HRTS Lunch
“I’ll do it as long as I possibly can. I think that there will be a day when I’ll look at it and say I don’t have the edge I used to,” said Lorne Michaels today about his future at Saturday Night Live. A seasoned and cool operator, the late night executive producer of course did not say when that day might be and if it would be related to his taking over The Tonight Show next year. In fact, Michaels didn’t say a lot about the Tonight Show Tuesday at a Comedy On TV luncheon hosted by the Hollywood Radio and Television Society on Tuesday in Beverly Hills. Of course, that’s what was on everyone’s mind now that Michael’s protégé Jimmy Fallon has formally been tipped by NBC to take over the show next year. Michaels’ one Tonight Show comment was about the plan to move the show back to New York after over 40 years out in Burbank. “Jimmy’s from New York, the show appeals to New York, I think New York is different from when Carson left and New York was on its ass,” the soon-to-be Tonight Show EP remarked. Fellow Canadian and former SNL regular Martin Short moderated the sitdown with the multiple Emmy-winner and past and future ruler of late night. “It worked out that way,” Michaels joked when Short asked if he really ruled late night. Michaels’ recent appointment as the upcoming Executive Producer of The Tonight Show means he is in control of NBC’s 11:30 PM slot six of the seven nights of the week.
Two decades after the Jay Leno-David Letterman battle for The Tonight Show, the Tonight Show curse has struck again with yet another messy host transition. In 1992, NBC had two hot young comedians eager to replace longtime Tonight host Johnny Carson, Leno and Letterman. The network chose Leno and created a formidable late-night rival in Letterman, who defected to CBS to launch The Late Show. Leno and Letterman had been going at each other ever since, looking to outrate and outlast each other. Letterman had the upper hand in the ratings early on before Leno took the lead, holding onto it for the most of the past 17 years. The two even have been timing their contracts to end at the same time. They did it again this time, with Leno’s deal up in September 2014 and Letterman’s contract also going through late 2014.
NBC‘s announcement today that Leno will retire in spring (likely February) of 2014, assures that Letterman will be the last man standing in the duo’s 20-year rivalry. Having outlasted his archrival, 65-year-old Letterman too may decide to retire at the end of his deal instead of going toe-to-toe with younger new competitors, Jimmy Fallon (38) on NBC and Jimmy Kimmel (45) on ABC. The key thing is that it will likely be his decision to make. Letterman has largely been given carte blanche to do the show for as long as he wants to. (Though in his recent interview with Oprah, Letterman claimed he has an agreement with CBS topper Les Moonves that Moonves has to tell him when it is time to go.)
UPDATE, 6:33 PM: Jay Leno admitted tonight to the Tonight Show studio audience that he had a “really awkward day.” During today’s taping, the now officially departing late night host addressed NBC’s announcement that Late Night host Jimmy Fallon would be taking over the Tonight Show next year. …
David Letterman didn’t waste any time to take his digs at NBC and the official announcement that Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show next year to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon. “I got a call from my mom today, she says, ‘Well, David, I see you didn’t get the Tonight Show again,’ ” the CBS Late Show host said in his monologue to air tonight (see the preview below). “NBC, God bless ‘em, announced the official date for Jay Leno’s departure — no mention of his official date of return, however,” he added, alluding to the last time his longtime late-night rival was dumped from the Tonight Show for Conan O’Brien — only to return eight months later. Added Letterman: “It seems like we just went through this. Didn’t we just go through this? Jay Leno now is being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened. I mean, it’s crazy. He’s being replaced by a younger late-night talk show host — what could possibly go wrong? Honestly. They had pretty good luck with this in the past”.
As well as doing a Leno-themed Top 10 tonight, Letterman — who was passed over for the Tonight Show job in favor of Leno in 1992 and soon after departed for CBS – had more to say. From his desk tonight:
New York has made it a lot easier for The Tonight Show to return to the Big Apple. The 2013-2014 budget given final approval by the Assembly late Thursday extends the state’s Film Tax Credit program through …
Monday night Jay Leno took aim at spring breakers, exercise, President Obama’s trip to Israel, and Lindsay Lohan, twice — talk about low-hanging fruit. But after sniping at NBC for …
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
Medient Studios, a Los Angeles-based production and distribution outfit with a presence in India, has announced plans to build a $90 million movie studio near Savannah, GA in a deal cleared this week by the Effingham County Industrial Development Authority. Although the deal may end up being good for Georgia, it comes during a precarious time for the Los Angeles-based entertainment economy — even with large-scale expansions underway at NBC Universal, Disney, and Paramount.
Despite an overall increase in movie, TV and commercial production, Los Angeles saw a steep drop in television drama and reality TV production in 2012, a problem the city has attempted to address at least partially by eliminating fees for pilot production. And places like New York, Louisiana, and Michigan as well as Georgia continue to pursue production business aggressively.
“Of course, we’d prefer these kinds of investments be made in the State of California instead of in Georgia,” FilmLA VP of Integrated Communications Philllip Sokoloski told Deadline. “Although the L.A. region has its own studio developments in progress, infrastructure development elsewhere can only intensify the competition we face for valuable film projects and jobs.”
Jay Leno keeps ‘em coming so here are tonight’s. “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 …