After a week in which CBS’s Stephen Colbert was declared the “undisputed king of late-night TV” based on his full-season win over NBC rival Jimmy Fallon in the ratings, more bad news has surfaced for NBC’s “Tonight Show.”
A report Thursday by The New York Post’s Page Six describes what the paper calls “turmoil at the top of the ‘Tonight Show’ with one exec suddenly and mysteriously out and another tearing into boss Lorne Michaels as they struggle to fix the faltering show.”
The Post reports that Fallon’s longtime producer Katie Hockmeyer has left the show, departing soon after she returned from maternity leave. Hockmeyer had reportedly been with Fallon since he launched “Late Night” in 2009.
The report quotes what The Post calls “a highly placed source” saying: “Katie no longer works at the ‘Tonight Show.’ She and Jimmy are still close — he adores her.”
The report notes that Hockmeyer’s exit comes just months after longtime showrunner Mike DiCenzo quit the show.
The Post also cites trouble between Michaels, who’s the show’s executive producer, and DiCenzo’s replacement as showrunner, “Today” show veteran Jim Bell.
The paper reports that as the show continues to lose ground to Colbert, “an anguished Bell is sniping at executive producer and NBC royalty Michaels, who heads up ‘Saturday Night Live’ and a glut of NBC comedies.
“30 Rock insiders say Bell is frustrated because he thinks that Michaels — who championed Fallon’s rise from ‘SNL’ to his stint at ‘Late Night’ and finally to ‘Tonight’ — is ‘stuck in the past,’ while Bell believes Fallon has to reinvent himself to compete.”
The report notes that Michaels is technically senior to Bell as the executive producer, but Bell runs the show day-to-day as “executive in charge.”
News of the turmoil follows a separate report Wednesday by The Post crowning Colbert “the undisputed king of late-night TV” after full-season ratings numbers showed the CBS mainstay winning both total viewers and the key 18-49 demo over Fallon.
Colbert usually wins total viewers, but he appears to be widening the margin, averaging 3.82 million for the season to just 2.44 million for Fallon. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel is third with 2.04 million.
In the 18-49 demo, Colbert’s margin over Fallon is razor-thin, but this season was the first time he came out on top. The Post reports that both shows delivered 0.5 ratings in the demo, with the “tiebreaker” going to Colbert with a viewer count in the demo of 679,000 to Fallon’s 659,000.