After months of reports that NBC is replacing Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show in 2014, it looks like Fallon has finally closed his deal and secured the new job. THR reports that Fallon has finalized his contract, but it’s still unclear exactly when he’ll be taking over for Leno, whose contract ends in September 2014. NBC has yet to confirm succession talks, despite Leno and Fallon discussing it and singing about it together on their shows. THR says that some NBC execs want Fallon to launch his Tonight Show, which will move the franchise to New York, in February to take advantage of the network’s popular Winter Olympics airings, but NBC will have to pay Leno a large penalty if they shove him out before September. THR claims that Lorne Michaels, who produces Fallon’s Late Night and will produce his Tonight Show too, wants his host to have more time than a February start date would give him.
It is odd that NBC is waiting so long to comment on the Tonight succession story when so many trusted news outlets are reporting it as official, but THR speculates that the network may be waiting until they’ve closed a deal with Fallon’s Late Night replacement too. THR confirms The NY Post’s story from last month that SNL’s Seth Meyers is the far-and-ahead frontrunner for the job with a network source telling them, “It will be Seth unless something goes awry [in the dealmaking].” With the new Tonight and Late Night hosts looking pretty official at this point, there’s still plenty of late night changes to speculate on for you late night speculation junkies, like: when Letterman’s retirement will come, where Leno will go next (Fox?), and the wide open race for Meyers’s spot behind SNL’s Weekend Update desk.