The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

April 4, 2013

Leno to leave NBC's 'Tonight Show' next spring



NEW YORK (AP) — NBC on Wednesday announced its long-rumored switch in late night, replacing Jay Leno at the "Tonight" show with Jimmy Fallon and moving the iconic franchise back to New York.

Fallon will take over in about a year, the switch coinciding with NBC's coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Veteran "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels also will take over as executive producer of "Tonight."

NBC made no announcement on who would replace Fallon at the 12:35 a.m. "Late Night" slot, although Seth Meyers of "Saturday Night Live" is considered a strong candidate.

The change at "Tonight," the longest-running and most popular late-night talk show, had been widely reported but not confirmed by the network until Wednesday. NBC reportedly just wrapped up negotiations with Fallon on a contract extension.

Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBC Universal, said the network is purposefully making the move when Leno is still at the top of the ratings, just as when Leno replaced Johnny Carson at "Tonight" in 1992.

"Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent, and this is his time," Burke said.

Leno, in a statement, offered his congratulations to Fallon.

"I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy," he said. "If you need me, I'll be at the garage."

Fallon said, "I'm really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow."

Emotions were mixed among people waiting outside Leno's Burbank, Calif., studio to attend the taping of Wednesday's "Tonight" show.

"We love you, Jimmy!" said Natalie Renfro, 45, of Salt Lake City. But she gave a shout out to Leno, too: "I'll miss that big chin!"

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