Less than two days after NBC aired a musical video in which Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon mocked weeks of widespread media speculation about the future of The Tonight Show, we finally have an answer: On Wednesday afternoon, NBC confirmed that Jimmy Fallon will become the sixth host of The Tonight Show in 2014, with Leno stepping down from the hosting gig after NBC completes its coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Leno, who inherited the high-profile job from Johnny Carson, has hosted The Tonight Show for more than 20 years — except for Conan O'Brien's brief, ill-fated 2009 turn in the hosting chair, which ended after just seven months when NBC fired O'Brien and handed the job back to Leno. The ensuing media frenzy was a public relations nightmare for the network, but Leno was quick to dismiss speculation that this will be a similarly contentious transition. "The main difference between this and the other time is I'm part of the process," explained Leno. "The last time the decision was made without me. I came into work one day and — you're out," he said, adding, "This time it feels right." The New York Times reports that after he steps down, Leno will continue his career as a comedian by taking his act "on the road."
The relative smoothness of the transition between Leno and Fallon doesn't mean that The Tonight Show won't see any changes. Producer Lorne Michaels confirmed reports that the show will move from Los Angeles to New York City, citing the importance of "having a show that is in the city Jimmy has always lived in and has Jimmy's sensibility." The Hollywood Reporter says that Saturday Night Live head writer and "Weekend Update" host Seth Meyers is the early favorite to take over Fallon's current gig as host of The Late Show, which airs immediately after The Tonight Show.
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