Jimmy Fallon has been visiting local affiliates in the run-up to his Tonight Show takeover in February, and at a recent stop in Florida, some of his recollection about the origins of the transition seems a bit off. He’s quoted as saying:
“As soon as I got Late Night, I called Jay and said, ‘I want to let you know I want to start on the right foot. I respect you.’ I’ve been a guest on the show numerous times. I said, ‘I’m not gunning for your job. I’m not trying to plot anything. Whenever you’re ready to step down, let me know. But I’m happy at 12:30.’”
But as Deadline points out, it should have been Conan O’Brien that Fallon was having this conversation with, since Leno and Fallon were only supposed to be on back-to-back from March to June of 2009, when Conan took over The Tonight Show. Fallon also said that the handover was prompted when Leno called him personally to say, “I think I’m ready,” though NBC executive have admitted they had been planning the move since January of 2011, only 10 months after Leno resumed hosting the show.
In less confusing news, Fallon told reporters in Florida that his version of The Tonight Show will look just like his version of Late Night, saying “It’s more eyeballs watching but it’s the same show.” His stop in Florida coincides with his “Clean Cut Comedy Tour,” which was essentially designed a front for his affiliate tour. Touring local markets is a standard part of taking over The Tonight Show; Conan did it in 2009, and managed to capture that awesome Tonight Show opening segment in the process.