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Report: Turmoil Behind the Scenes at NBC’s ‘Tonight Show’

May 24, 2019  •  Post A Comment

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.

5 Comments

  1. Fallon sucks. He comes across as totally fake. He is a shill for all things Universal or NBC… at times his show seems like an annoying infomercial for Universal. And every guest according to Fallon is “the greatest”… and every show according to Fallon is going to be “an awesome show.” He is just cliche after cliche. And most importantly, Fallon is just not funny. Plus, the show is produced on the cheap, in that cheezy little studio with few extras or anything done outside the studio. Fallon will be the end of The Tonight Show. What a legacy. Oh, and yes Lorne Michaels is a dinosaur for sure. You don’t need Grandpa in charge, in 2019. What a mess.

  2. Fallon has his issues but Jim Bell is a giant moron who comes from sports and has absolutely zero comedic sensibility. Lorne may be difficult but he’s a legendary comedic producer and visionary. Jim Bell is a hacky sports producer who couldn’t run the Today show.

  3. The fumbled handoff of Leno to Conan, which was supposed to be the plan all along, began the downfall. NBC was too stuck in Leno mode and panicked with the slow start when Conan was on The Tonight Show and the whole trying to make another show for Leno at the same time was unbelievably dumb. With time to establish himself with The Tonight Show audience, Conan would be keeping up with or surpassing Colbert now and would be a better “rival” than Fallon.

    • Talk about stuck in the past. Conan insisted on doing his 12:30 show at 11:30 when, in reality, those are two entirely different audiences. Conan is a spoiled brat who is overly impressed with himself and unwilling to change and adapt. Even had NBC stuck with him at 11:30, he never would have grown the audience. He was turning them away in droves. Look at the ratings track for his show. And don’t bring up Leno’s 10PM show. You are forgetting the local late news. There’s very little carryover between Late News and Late Night.

      Colbert has shown himself to be flexible and adaptable and his show is a joy to watch. When he’s in reruns, I go over to NBC and take a look at Fallon. I last about 5-10 minutes and then I’m gone.

      Conan has been cut way back by TBS. He’s a goner.

  4. The issue, people, is the current political climate
    Fallon focuses on pop culture and celebrity while Colbert plays his liberal bullsheet angst ridden insults. Once Trump derangement syndrome passes, Colbert will be as relevant as Hillary Clinton.
    Jim Bell is a genius. Lorne Michaels probably still thinks sugar bowls full of blow in the dressing rooms is a de rigeur as “ no Red m&m’s” in a contract.

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