NEW YORK — NBC-- announced on Wednesday its long-rumored switch in late night, replacing Jay Leno at the “Tonight” show with Jimmy Fallon and moving the iconic franchise back to New York.
Fallon will take over in about a year, the switch coinciding with NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage. Veteran “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels will take over as executive producer of “Tonight.”
NBC made no announcement on who would replace Fallon, although Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live” is considered a strong candidate.
The change at “Tonight,” the longest-running and most popular late-night talk show, had been widely reported but not confirmed by the network until Wednesday. NBC reportedly just wrapped up negotiations with Fallon on a contract extension.
Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBC Universal, said the network is purposefully making the move when Leno is still at the top of the ratings, just as when Leno replaced Johnny Carson.
“Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time,” Burke said.
Leno offered Fallon congratulations.
“I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy,” he said. “If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.”