January 22, 2010

Is Jimmy Fallon next in line for 'Tonight'?

Posted: 05:35 PM ET

By Breeanna Hare

(CNN) - Now that Conan O'Brien is out as "Tonight Show" host and Jay Leno is back in, Jimmy Fallon may have quietly positioned himself to be next in line to take the behind-the-desk throne.

As host of "Late Night," still slated for 12:35 a.m. Monday through Friday, Fallon is exactly where O'Brien once was for 16 years: the follow-up to Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." If history repeats itself, Fallon may be poised to take the "Tonight" baton as O'Brien did, though he would probably hope for better results.

The 35-year-old comedian was brought into NBC's late-night fold last March to take over O'Brien's former post on "Late Night." Throughout the entire late-night battle at NBC, Fallon remained the silent new kid, keeping quiet even though the proposed negotiations affected his show as well. NBC originally devised a scheme that would place "The Jay Leno Show" at 11:35 p.m. for a half hour, to be followed by "The Tonight Show" at 12:05, which would knock Fallon back to 1:05, a move that could have put a deep gash in the newcomer's ratings.

"He was wise to stay out of it, and he didn't have much of a choice I don't think. He's a small fish at NBC," said's TV editor Sal Cinquemani. "He's like a little brother watching his siblings fight with his parents and to keep quiet was the classy thing to do."

Even as O'Brien rode a ratings wave thanks to the shots he fired at the network, Fallon didn't use the open season on NBC to his advantage. But, Cinquemani said, Fallon didn't have to. At the end of the day, O'Brien's exit is the best thing that could have come out of this mess for Fallon.

"This puts him in a better position than he was before, because he could now potentially be the host that follows on 'The Tonight Show,' " Cinquemani said. "It definitely works to his benefit, which is why he probably didn't say anything."


Filed under: Conan O'Brien • Entertainment • Jimmy Fallon

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bekkah   January 24th, 2010 11:53 pm ET

yes i think conan should build a time machine and go back to 2003. lol

Mary   January 25th, 2010 11:43 am ET

I agree bekkah

But has anybody noticed that General McChrystal is speaking talks now instead of fighting ?? hmmm we'll see

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