Pop Culture

Jimmy Fallon replacing Jay Leno on 'Tonight Show' in spring 2014

Updated 3:30 p.m. ET: It's official: Jimmy Fallon is replacing Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" in spring 2014.

"Congratulations Jimmy," Leno offered on Wednesday. "I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy," joked the silver-haired car aficionado. "If you need me, I'll be at the garage."

Fallon, the former "Saturday Night Live" cast member who has made a successful transition to daily TV as the current host of "Late Night," quipped about his time-slot bump from 12:35 a.m. to the 11 p.m. hour. 

"I'm really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow," Fallon said.

The announcement ends weeks of speculation that there would be changes in the late night landscape, but unlike many television shakeups, this one seems poised for a smooth transition. For starters, Fallon clearly has his predecessor's blessing.

Furthermore, Fallon isn't going to have to uproot his franchise in order to take it to a "Tonight Show" stage -- the show is moving from Los Angeles to New York City. The talker will set up shop in its original home, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where Fallon currently tapes "Late Night."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cheered the news in separate press releases, citing a "surge" in production of film and television shows in the state and city. Both welcomed Fallon at the helm of "Tonight," calling him a "native son."

"The original 'Tonight Show' ushered in the modern era of television, broadcast here from New York," Cuomo said. "It is only fitting that as 'The Tonight Show' returns to our state, it will be headlined by New York's own native son and resident, Jimmy Fallon."

Fallon, 38, will also be reuniting with "Saturday Night Live's" Lorne Michaels, who will become executive producer of "The Tonight Show."

  • Slideshow Photos

    Tracy Leeds / Episodic

    Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    As Jimmy Fallon prepares to take over the helm of "The Tonight Show," take a look back at nine of his funniest moments on “Late Night,” including his dead-on Neil Young musical impression.

  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Season 4

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    9 great moments of 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon' -

    As Jimmy Fallon prepares to take over the helm of "The Tonight Show," take a look back at nine of his funniest moments on "Late Night." Slow Jamming the News with President Obama In April 2012, President Obama helped Fallon and Tariq "Questlove" Trotter slow-jam the news.

    NBC / NBC
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Season 4

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    'Downton Sixbey' -

    In February 2013, Brooke Shields (second from left) helped Jimmy Fallon spoof "Downton Abbey" in a sketch called "Downton Sixbey" (named after Studio 6B in 30 Rock, the home of "Late Night").

    NBC / NBC
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    Spoofing Neil Young -

    Jimmy Fallon is known for his dead-on musical impressions, including an uncanny imitation of veteran rocker Neil Young.

    NBC / NBC
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Season 4

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    Tebowie -

    One of Fallon's cleverest characters is "Tebowie": a mash-up of rocker David Bowie and quarterback Tim Tebow. Here Tebowie appears in Ziggy Stardust regalia in March 2012.

    NBC / NBC
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    'Jersey Floor' -

    Jimmy Fallon and Rachel Dratch parodied MTV hit "Jersey Shore" with "Jersey Floor," set on a magical floor of 30 Rock inhabited by young New Jersey Italian-Americans. Here they are joined by real "Jersey Shore" cast members in September 2011. From left: Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, A.D. Miles, Dratch as "Drootchie," Fallon as "J Bro," Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Deena Nicole Cortese and Sammi Giancola.

    NBC / NBC
  • Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - Season 4

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    'History of Rap' -

    Aided by house band The Roots, Fallon (left) and Justin Timberlake perform the fourth installment in their acclaimed "History of Rap," a bravura medley of hip-hop classics, in March 2013.

    NBC / NBC
  • Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - Season 4

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    'Evolution of Mom Dancing' -

    In March 2013, first lady Michelle Obama joined a bewigged Jimmy Fallon to perform "The Evolution of Mom Dancing," featuring such moves as the hip bump.

    NBC / NBC
  • Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - Season 5

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    'All I Want for Christmas Is You' -

    In December 2012, Mariah Carey joined Fallon and The Roots to perform a special rendition of her holiday hit "All I Want For Christmas Is You" using classroom instruments.

    Lloyd Bishop/NBC / Lloyd Bishop/NBC
  • Late Night With Jimmy Fallon - Season 4

    9 great moments of ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon’

    of

    Charlie Sheen -

    In July 2012, Charlie Sheen joined Fallon on "Late Night." The "Major League" star and Fallon stepped into a batting cage for some friendly competition.

    NBC / NBC

Leno, 62, has hosted the "The Tonight Show" since 1992, when he took over for Johnny Carson (with the exception of a controversial seven-month replacement by Conan O'Brien in 2009). This marks the end of an era for the comic, but it's one that will be highlighted by the rare fact that he's going out on top.

Over the years, the popular host scored interview subjects as wide-ranging as President Barack Obama (first sitting president to do late night) to actor Hugh Grant ("I did a bad thing" with Divine Brown). And his comedy skits attempted to pick up where Carson left off, most notably with his nod to goofy headlines and his man-on-the-street favorite, "Jaywalking."

The Tonight Show" is No. 1 in the ratings, and Leno's place in late-night history is cemented.

"Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years," said Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal. "His long reign as the highest-rated late-night host is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to his viewers and to NBC."

NBC said an announcement about its programming plans for the 12:35 a.m. time period will be coming "soon," but rumors are swirling that Fallon's fellow "SNL" "Weekend Update" host Seth Meyers is on deck to replace him.

Related content:

More in The Clicker:

0:00
 
0:00
Your video begins in
0:00
TOP