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Jimmy Fallon to host 'Tonight Show' in spring 2014
Jimmy Fallon has finalized a deal with NBC to succeed Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" and tape it in New York City in the spring of 2014.
NBC confirmed the news Wednesday through a press release, which also quoted Leno as saying: "Congratulations, Jimmy. I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy. If you need me, I'll be at the garage.”
The network's statement also included a quote from Fallon: "I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”
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Leno likely will be compensated in some way, as his "Tonight Show" contract doesn't expire until September 2014, but that apparently didn't stop the network from inking a deal to have the "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" host take over "The Tonight Show" in the 11:35 p.m. time slot.
Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, offered his explanation of the timing of the transition via the network's March 3 press release.
“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is No. , just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was No. 1," Burke was quoted as saying. "Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time. I’m thrilled he will become the sixth host of ‘The Tonight Show’ at exactly the right moment, in conjunction with our coverage of next year's Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia."
Both comedians have Hudson Valley connections: Fallon grew up in Saugerties and Leno is a New Rochelle native.
"Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels will executive-produce "The Tonight Show" when Fallon, an "SNL" alumnus, takes over as host.
Although Fallon and Leno hadn't commented on the news via Twitter as of early Wednesday afternoon, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson — the drummer for "Late Night" house band The Roots — did just that, albeit in vague fashion.
What's this about The Tonight Show?— Questo of The Roots (@questlove) April 3, 2013
During the transition between "The Tonight Show" and "Late Night" early Tuesday morning, the two talk show hosts teamed up to address the rumors via a song parody of "Tonight" from "West Side Story." In it, Leno sings that he's "got Fox on the line" and maybe "could take over for Dave [Letterman]" — a sign he might not ride off into the sunset after he's done on "The Tonight Show."
"SNL" star and head writer Seth Meyers is considered the "strong front-runner" to succeed Fallon on "Late Night," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Other than a seven-month span in 2009-10, when Conan O'Brien served as "Tonight Show" host, Leno has helmed the show since Carson called it quits in 1992. Earlier this week, TBS announced O'Brien had renewed his late-night contract with the cable network through November 2015.
Who would you rather see host "The Tonight Show" — Jay Leno or Jimmy Fallon? Or would you rather see O'Brien return to NBC? Vote in Newsday Westchester's poll, and explain your answer in the comments section.