NBC announced a month ago that current Late Night host Jimmy Fallon will be promoted to host of The Tonight Show next year. The network has been slow to announce who Jimmy Fallon’s replacement on Late Night will be, but TV Guide reports that the network is expected to name its new host in the next couple weeks. TV Guide confirms stories in The Post and THR that current SNL head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers is the frontrunner for the job, but the report also mentions that NBC has two alternates in mind if Meyers doesn’t take the gig: Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen and America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon.
The report confirms that Late Night will remain in New York under its new host, occupying 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the same building that also hosts Saturday Night Live and will host Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. This is the first time ever that Late Night and Tonight will be on the same coast. Lorne Michaels will remain a producer on Late Night in addition to being Fallon’s producer on Tonight. Since both shows will be competing for the same guests in New York and Fallon and Meyers are similarly-aged guys with similar backgrounds, NBC is expected to make some change to the 12:35 am talk show’s format to differentiate it from its 11:35 series. TV Guide writes:
Late Night is expected to de-emphasize multiple celebrity guests in order to prevent booking wars with its Tonight Show sibling. Among the changes, Meyers could adapt “Weekend Update” into a nightly version for Late Night in the vein of The Daily Show, and perhaps interview more newsmakers, politicians and athletes (some of his biggest interests) and fewer stars. In order to trim costs, Late Night might also be produced in a smaller setting, similar to Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live — perhaps with no band, a smaller audience and more reliance on conversation.
One of the most interesting things about TV Guide’s report is the claim that NBC gave “serious consideration” to expanding Tonight from 60 to 90 minutes when Fallon takes over next year. The show was 90 minutes for decades until host Johnny Carson shortened it to 60 minutes in 1980, which subsequently became the standard length for all talk shows. NBC ultimately decided not to make Fallon’s show 90 minutes, but it would have been a pretty bold move if they did.