(LOS ANGELES) — NBC may soon announce Jay Leno’s exit from The Tonight Show.
While the network says it has no plans for Leno’s departure, two “high-level industry sources” tell The Hollywood Reporter that the network will likely announce in May that the 2013-14 television season will be Leno’s last as host of the late-night talk show.
Those sources speculate that NBC will move Jimmy Fallon from his 12:35 ET Late Night slot into the coveted 11:35 time slot, with a soft launch in the summer of 2014. A Leno rep tells The Hollywood Reporter, “We do not speculate on rumor.”
Another factor playing into NBC possibly moving Fallon is ABC’s shifting of Jimmy Kimmel to the 11:35 time slot in January.
A source says, “The more time Jimmy Kimmel is in that slot, the more the young audience goes that way, the harder it is for Jimmy Fallon to keep that audience.”
This whole scenario may sound familiar. Leno left The Tonight Show once before, in May 2009; he went on to host the ill-fated primetime talk show The Jay Leno Show. Late Night host Conan O’Brien replaced him on The Tonight Show, but O’Brien later left the network in an acrimonious split and Leno returned as host of The Tonight Show in March 2010.
One source added that if NBC should choose to announce the Leno-Fallon transition at or before the May upfront presentations for advertisers, the network would “get the benefit of selling Jay’s last year — again.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Brian Stelter, CNN
Lisa Respers France and Brian Stelter, CNN