'The Tonight Show' to return to Big Apple with Jimmy Fallon as host: Report
“Heeeerrreee’s New York!”
Nearly 41 years after it left Gotham for Los Angeles, “The Tonight Show” could be heading back here with Jimmy Fallon replacing Jay Leno as host, according to a report in The New York Times Wednesday.
The Times noted that the network “has quietly begun work on a new studio” at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. And echoing a report two weeks ago in The Hollywood Reporter, the paper said NBC had set a succession plan in place for Fallon to take the seat behind TV’s most famous desk next year.
NBC declined to comment, but buzz for the move and new host has already been spreading.
In a recent interview with GQ Magazine, “Saturday Night Live” creator and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” producer Lorne Michaels said the 38-year-old’s road to “The Tonight Show” is “inevitable.”
“He’s the closest to [Johnny] Carson that I’ve seen of this generation,” Michaels said.
“The Tonight Show” began airing from Manhattan in 1954 with Steve Allen as host, followed by Jack Paar. Johnny Carson became host in 1962 and in May 1972 moved the show to Burbank, Calif.
Ron Simon, curator of televiseion and radio at the Paley Center for Media, said if the show comes back to the city, there will be a change in its comedic dynamic.
He noted that Carson, Leno and Conan O’Brien, who lasted just seven months on the show, all used West Coast locales for their sketches and promoted local talent as well.
“Jimmy Fallon is very conscious of the city for his show and he’ll bring that flavor to ‘The Tonight Show,’” Simon said.
He added that NBC considering relocation to the city is part of a bigger trend in the entertainment industry where executives are not afraid of programming with a New York attitude.
“I think executives were scared [about] the Midwest embracing the New York sensibility,” Simon said. “But with shows like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Girls,’ they see it as less threatening.”