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Jay Leno Announces He’s Leaving The Tonight Show; Jimmy Fallon to Take Over Next Year

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A week’s worth of rumors were confirmed Wednesday, when Jay Leno announced that he’s leaving NBC’s The Tonight Show next year.

In a joint statement with NBC, Leno confirmed his departure in spring of 2014, after 22 years as The Tonight Show’s host.  Leno succeeded Johnny Carson in May of 1992, when Carson retired after thirty years behind the desk.

NBC also confirmed that Late Night with Jimmy Fallon host Jimmy Fallon will succeed Leno as host of The Tonight Show, and that the show will move from Los Angeles to NBC headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, where the network is currently building a studio for Fallon.  It’ll also be produced by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, who currently produces Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was #1,” said NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke.  “Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time.”

“Congratulations Jimmy,” said Leno in the statement.  “I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.”  Said Fallon, “I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”

NBC hasn’t announced who will succeed Fallon, although Saturday Night Live star and head writer Seth Meyers is the leading candidate.

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