The rumors about Fallon replacing Jay Leno on the NBC program, which the network’s declined to comment on, have been heavy recently. The New York Times’ Bill Carter reported Wednesday that the network has made a commitment to Fallon in regards to him succeeding Leno, and Carter reiterated as much while speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“The idea that Jimmy was getting the show was kind of out there, because Jay’s got one contract that he’s working on, and he’s 62, so there was an expectation that he would be leaving soon, if not this contract, then maybe another year,” Carter said. “So Jimmy getting the show was kind of expected.”
There’s isn’t a deal in place, Carter said – it’s more like an understanding, which he’s sure Leno knows about. Carter earlier reported that the expectation is for the change to happen by the fall of 2014, at the latest, and that “The Tonight Show” will move from California back to New York.
“There’s a lot of reasons for it – I think they all feel that the energy of New York helps Fallon,” Carter said. “But also you have Lorne Michaels, who’s the producer of the show, and has always been close to Jimmy and he’s of course New York-based. And then you have the band, The Roots, and The Roots are a Philadelphia-based band, and some of the guys I think still commute to New York, and they’re very important to that show and I don’t think they wanted to lose them.”
There isn’t a set timetable for the move to happen, however, and for the time being, it sounds like Fallon is playing it cool. As he said in a new interview with GQ, he’s not really thinking about the chances that he’ll host “Tonight.”
“I mean, in the nicest way, who really cares,” Fallon said. “In the nicest way. It would be great, sure, I guess. I’d love it, but it’s not on my mind. I’m in no rush to do anything. I’m kind of a boring character in that book. I’m not in a fight with Jay or Conan, or any of them. I don’t have that story.”
According to “Late Night” producer Michaels, though, Fallon on “The Tonight Show” is less of an “if” as much as it is a “when.”
“I’m not allowed to say it – yet,” he told GQ. “But I think there’s an inevitability to it. He’s the closest to Carson that I’ve seen of this generation.”