Will Jimmy Fallon's move to 'Tonight' stick?
When NBC puts out press releases talking about Jimmy Fallon's ascension to the "Tonight Show" throne, the network talks about Steve Allen and Jack Paar and Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. It's a storied tradition, indeed. NBC makes no mention of that period between June 2009 and February 2010 when there was a diverting anomaly titled "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," a creatively interesting experiment undermined by the primetime "Jay Leno Show," but still responsible for its own plummeting ratings. NBC will attempt to pass the late night torch again this February following the Winter Olympics and, thanks to the Conan failure, expectations are probably a bit lower for Jimmy Fallon, who also happens to be a more accessible comedic personal than O'Brien. And unlike in 2009, Fallon doesn't have Jay Leno lurking in the background poised for simultaneous primetime disaster and late night resurrection. Still, we don't know what Jay Leno's next move is and there's at least the possibility that Fallon's shift to 11:35 could see ratings crater. Does NBC has a secret contingency plan? Or is the network determined to give Fallon the time it barely gave Conan? Fallon could, of course, render any and all speculation moot by coming out of the gate strong and maintaining momentum through the spring. Stay tuned!
- Daniel Fienberg