Goodbye, Leno; Hello, Fallon — The New ‘Tonight Show’ Kicks Off
At midnight, Jimmy Fallon will be taking up the Tonight Show torch, welcoming his first guest and new audience. His time slot will be even earlier in coming weeks, following the conclusion of the Winter Olympics, at 11:35 p.m. Eastern, compared to his slot on Late Night at 12:37. “I’m really gonna miss being on the TV at 12:37,” said Fallon in his last show before the move, adding that he will “especially miss the battle for late night ratings with my fierce rivals Craig Ferguson and a veggie chopper infomercial.”
Fallon is taking over for Jay Leno, who’s leaving the show for good this time after a couple of false alarms over the past few years. The departure is a friendly one this time around, though, with Fallon warmly congratulated by his predecessor. The two have been friends for years, and Leno shrugged off the pressure and stress of Fallon’s new position. “The people that make the best hosts are the ones who’ve actually had contact with an audience, like Jimmy. A lot of guys have come from radio or something and they do these things and they don’t have that, they don’t make that connection,” said Leno in an interview with KSDK.
Fallon joked that he’d spoken with Seinfeld recently, who had asked him if the Tonight Show job was one that he really wanted. “He goes: ‘You sure you want this? You do this ’til you die. This is a pope job,” said Fallon, jokingly. Apparently he does want it, telling KSDK: ”It doesn’t get bigger than the Tonight Show. This is the job of your lifetime.”