Amid Jay Leno’s jabs at NBC executives on "The Tonight Show" and reports that he will be replaced as host by Jimmy Fallon, Leno was taken out to dinner by NBC Entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt last night, reports Kim Masters in The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed.
An NBC representative confirmed the dinner, but said the meeting wasn’t atypical. The article, which was published Thursday night, indicates that the obvious topic, “The Tonight Show,” was on the agenda, but it doesn’t specify what they planned to talk about.
Greenblatt expressed his displeasure earlier this week with Leno’s jokes at the expense of the network, as we reported previously. Leno responded by continuing to target NBC brass in his nightly monologue, including calling NBC executives “snakes.”
Meanwhile, speculation has swirled around the timing for Fallon, the consensus choice to replace Leno on “Tonight,” to take over the show. News broke in the past couple of days that NBC plans to move the show from L.A. to New York, with the network reportedly secretly building a new studio at Manhattan’s 30 Rock.
Masters notes in THR: "Sources say some top NBCUniversal executives are leaning toward a February launch of Fallon’s ‘Tonight’ to take advantage of the promotional platform of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Others, including ‘Late Night’ executive producer Lorne Michaels, are said to have concerns about rushing the transition."
Leno’s contract expires in September 2014, and he reportedly has a clause that would require NBC to pay a significant penalty if he’s pushed out before the end of the contract, the story says.
The New York Daily News, meanwhile, reports that New York is taking steps to ensure that “Tonight” returns to the city, which it left for L.A. back in 1972.
“Quietly tucked into [the] tentative state budget is a provision that would help NBC move ‘The Tonight Show’ back to New York,” the Daily News reports.
“The provision would make state tax credits available for the producers of ‘a talk or variety program that filmed at least five seasons outside the state prior to its first relocated season in New York,’ budget documents show.”
Another stipulation, the story reports, is that “the episodes ‘must be filmed before a studio audience’ of at least 200 people. And the program must have an annual production budget of at least $30 million or incur at least $10 million a year in capital expenses.
“In other words, a program exactly like ‘The Tonight Show.’”
The report notes that the show is not identified by name in any of the budget documents.