Yesterday, NBC confirmed that Jimmy Fallon would replace Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show in 2014 — and as expected, late-night hosts from every network couldn't resist tackling the news on their own shows. How did Leno, Fallon, Conan O'Brien, David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel respond to the impending Tonight Show transition? Find out:
Leno opened The Tonight Show by poking fun at the show's tumultuous history and continuing troubles at NBC. "Folks, I've gotta be honest with you. Had a really awkward day today. Had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn't get The Tonight Show again," said Leno. "I want to congratulate our good friend Jimmy Fallon. He is a hell of a guy, he's going to do a great job. I just have one request of Jimmy: We've all fought, kicked, and scratched to get this network up to fifth place. Now we have to keep it there. Jimmy, don't let it slip into sixth. We're counting on you!"
It was business as usual at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, apart from a brief reference at the start of his monologue. "This is Late Night with Jimmy Fallon... for now," said Fallon, to a round of raucous applause. "You guys probably heard the news that I'm going to be taking over for The Tonight Show next February. But don't worry, until February, our focus is here, on whatever this show is called."
O'Brien offered a brief, congratulatory statement that strategically avoided any direct mention of Jay Leno. "You know, ladies and gentlemen, before we go any further tonight there's something that I want to mention that's very important. It was announced today, just a couple hours ago, that Jimmy Fallon is going to take over The Tonight Show next year, and I want to congratulate Jimmy. That's a really fun gig." When the audience laughed, O'Brien continued, "It is! You laugh, it's a fun gig — and you know what? Jimmy is the perfect guy to do it. He's going to do a fantastic job, so congratulations, Jimmy."
David Letterman, by contrast, was prepared for Leno's jokes at his expense — and fired back with quite a few of his own. "How many of you folks earlier today saw the white smoke coming out of the pipe at NBC? I got a call from my mom today, she says 'Well, David, I see you didn't get The Tonight Show again.' What are you going to do, Mom?" Letterman continued, "It seems like we just went through this. Didn't we just go through this? Jay Leno is being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened. This is crazy: He's being replaced by a younger late-night talk show host. What could possibly go wrong?" Letterman concluded by offering a smirking, backhanded congratulations to Leno "if, in fact, you're not coming back."
Kimmel opened his monologue by delivering some unexpected news. "It is a big one for the world of late-night television," said Kimmel on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live. "As you probably heard, it was announced officially today: Starting in February of next year, after the Olympics, I will take over as new host of The Tonight Show. I spoke to Jay on the phone today." After speaking to a staffer, Kimmel offered a correction: "Turns out, I will not be hosting The Tonight Show. Does anyone know what the return policy is on yachts?"
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