Jay Leno will sign off as host of “The Tonight Show” on May 29, with Conan O’Brien taking over the storied franchise on Monday, June 1.
NBC Entertainment Co-Chairs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff made the announcement Monday morning during the network’s portion of the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Mr. Leno helped make the news by posing as a reporter asking questions at the TCA, copying Jimmy Kimmel’s stunt from last week.
Mr. Graboff said Mr. O’Brien would step down as host of “Late Night” sometime during the first quarter of 2009. Mr. Fallon is expected to take over a few weeks later, in March or April, with NBC airing repeats in the interim. Meanwhile, Mr. Fallon’s late-night show will get a test run online.
And while Mr. Leno told USA Today last week that he’s “done” with NBC, Mr. Graboff said he’s not ready to concede that point.
“We’re still talking to Jay about staying at NBC Universal,” said Mr. Graboff, adding that the network has no second thoughts about the decision to transition from Mr. Leno to Mr. O’Brien.
“We made our decision and I’m happy with it,” he said. “NBC will continue to dominate late-night.”
NBC announced Mr. O’Brien’s takeover for “Tonight” four years ago.
(Editors: Horowitz, Baumann. Updated 11:41 a.m.)