NBC paid a lot of attention to its plans for a revamped late-night lineup during today’s network upfront presentation. Deadline.com reports that the network "officially announced that Jay Leno will end his 22-year run on ‘The Tonight Show’ during the week leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, which start Feb. 6. And that Jimmy Fallon will be introduced during the second week of the Sochi games when ratings are at their highest."
Fallon’s start date at "Tonight" will be Feb. 24, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt announced, with Seth Meyers making his debut on "Late Night" the same night.
Deadline adds: "NBC Broadcasting chief Ted Harbert kicked off the upfront by explaining the changeover with this understated description: ‘Things are shifting and changing in late-night.’ But if any of the media buyers or advertisers in the audience thought NBC was going to candidly say why they’re taking off the network’s #1 ‘Tonight Show’ host for two decades, they got a joke instead. Promising a ‘slight change’ in late-night, Greenblatt deadpanned, ‘I’m stepping down in 2014 and Jay Leno will be taking my job.’”
Greenblatt did cite the ”increasingly competitive” late-night landscape, saying the network wanted to “pass the baton while still No. 1,” the report notes. He also offered plenty of niceties for Leno: ”We owe a great debt of gratitude to Jay Leno and extend Jay our sincerest thanks for an unparalleled run.” Greenblatt said Leno “always has been a gentleman, and added, “He took great care of the franchise and for that we’ll always be grateful," the report adds.
Neither Leno nor Fallon took part in the live upfront presentation, Deadline notes, adding: "Instead there was a taped ‘Special Message from Jimmy and Jay’ telling advertisers to ‘get ready for the biggest season in late night yet: the final season with Jay Leno’ and introducing Fallon. ‘Hey guys, I’m so thrilled and honored to be taking over "The Tonight Show" from Jay Leno. Any questions, send me an email at email@example.com. I don’t want to make a big deal about the whole "Tonight Show" thing. It’s still 8 months away.’”