Jimmy Fallon Reportedly Taking "Tonight Show" Helm From Jay Leno
Jimmy Fallon is in and Jay Leno is on his way out.
According to a startling front page story in The New York Times, Fallon will succeed Leno as host of The Tonight Show in 2014 and the show will move back to New York City.
A senior NBC executive is quoted as saying: "There is no way on earth that this is not going to happen."
Fallon alluded to the speculation on his late night show Wednesday night with a gag, saying, "I had to talk about the rumors that came out today which said that I'll be moving up to 11:30, or as my parents call it, 'It's still too late.' "
According to The New York Times story, NBC is already constructing a new studio for The Tonight Show at Rockefeller Center. The show currently originates from Burbank, California.
The Tonight Show was broadcast from New York City from 1954 to 1972 when Johnny Carson moved the show west.
NBC is reportedly now moving it back east to accommodate Fallon, who will reportedly take over when Leno's contract expires in the fall of 2014.
TV Guide's Matt Roush told INSIDE EDITION, "They want to make Jimmy Fallon happy. He's happy here. He's based here."
But not some think moving the show from Burbank could be a big mistake
Staff Editor Sophie Schillaci of The Hollywood Reporter told INSIDE EDITION, "A lot of celebrities are going to have to travel to be on the show now, and all of the employees who have been working on The Tonight Show for years and years and years are now going to be possibly looking for new work."
So, how is Leno handling the news? It was business as usual Wednesday night with guest Vannesa Hudgens doing a sexy dance.
But for the past three nights running, Leno has taken swipes at NBC's ratings, even going so far as to call network executives "snakes."
Leno joked, "St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland and then they came into the United States and became NBC executives."
Fallon has reportedly reached out to 62-year-old Leno in a phone call out of respect for the long-time host. Fallon may be wishing to avoid the infamous bungled transition NBC made from Leno to Conan O'Brien and back to Leno in 2009.
Roush said, "If it comes out that they look like they're throwing Leno to the curb again, that's not going to be pretty."
There's already head-scratching about why NBC would make changes when The Tonight Show is No. 1 in the late night ratings.
New York Magazine's website says: "NBC Would Be Crazy to Give Jay Leno's Tonight Job to Jimmy Fallon."
But NBC is reportedly worried that ABC's Jimmy Kimmel is starting to siphon off younger viewers who are critical to advertisers from both Leno and David Letterman.
"Jimmy Kimmel is popular with the young crowd. So is Jimmy Fallon in that late night period. They think that if they just keep Leno there, they might lose traction with the young audience altogether," said Roush.
The news of big changes at The Tonight Show comes as Jimmy Fallon appears on the cover of the April issue of GQ magazine.
Saturday Night Live Executive Producer Lorne Michaels, who gave Fallon his start tells the magazine about handing over The Tonight Show to Fallon: "I'm not allowed to say it--yet. But I think there's an inevitability to it."
Now the big question: What will Leno do, or say next?