NBC allegedly needs Leno to vacant his spot early to give room for his successor Jimmy Fallon to be introduced as 'Tonight Show' host during the coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Rumor emerges surrounding Jay Leno's exit from "The Tonight Show" before his contract expires in September 2014. New York Daily News reports NBC is offering the 62-year-old host $15M to step down from his seat earlier than the initial schedule.
Jimmy Fallon is set to replace Leno beginning February next year at the conclusion of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The network allegedly wants to use the games coverage as a platform to introduce Fallon as the new host occupying the "Tonight" slot.
Bosses at NBC refuse to give comment on the rumor, but a source close to Leno dismisses the report. "Jay will be paid through September 2014," the source insists.
Unlike the 2009 change which left him disgruntled when he was replaced by Conan O'Brien, Leno has no hard feelings this time around because he was already consulted about his departure, something that reportedly didn't happen four years ago.
"Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you're as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you're the old guy," Leno said. "If you need me, I'll be at the garage." Jimmy Kimmel who's hosting a rival show on ABC also showed his support, "congratulations to my dear, sweet @jimmyfallon - a formidable rival and an incredible lover."
David Letterman, meanwhile, made fun of the Leno-Fallon switch, "Now earlier today, NBC announced that Jimmy Fallon will take over for Jay Leno as host of the Tonight Show in February of 2014. This is something's wrong here."
He added in his monologue in his own "Late Show" on CBS, "This happened once before with Conan O'Brien, and then they had to bring Jay back, and so he had to start his show all over again, and now it looks like the same thing is happening."
Fallon maintained his sense of humor as saying, "I'm really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow," referring to the move from the 12:35 A.M. time slot where he is currently hosting "Late Night" show to the 11:35 P.M. for his next year show.
As for Leno, he hit back at Letterman on the latest outing of "Tonight Show", "Folks, I got to be honest with you, I had a really awkward day today. I had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn't get the 'Tonight Show' again. Awful! Terrible!"