WEDNESDAY APRIL 3, 2013 11:31 PM
NBC will cough up about $15 million for Jay Leno as a sweetener to step down from “The Tonight Show” months before his contract with the network expires, industry sources say.
The payoff, about a year’s salary for the late-night comic, is part of his deal with the peacock network to leave the show before his contract expires next September to make way for Jimmy Fallon as the new “Tonight” host.
While the payout sounds steep, it’s peanuts for Leno who rakes in far more money performing standup comedy in Las Vegas.
“Jay has been banking his NBC money for years,” a knowledgable insider said. “He lives off of his Vegas (money).”
Leno, 62, agreed Wednesday to step down from “Tonight” next year, paving the way for a smooth succession with Fallon, 38, who is taking over the program in February.
NBC wants to revamp its late-night programming with fresh face behind the wheel at ‘The Tonight Show,’ and will deliver $15 million pay day for Jay Leno to get him to leave the show early so Jimmy Fallon can take over.
Leno’s current deal with NBC concludes in September 2014, but the plan now is to use the network’s Winter Olympics coverage next February as a springboard to launch Fallon’s tenure as the host of the “Tonight” show.
NBC officials declined to comment on contractual issues, but a source close to Leno disputed the payday, noting that “Jay will be paid through September 2014.”
Leno, for his part, said that he is leaving peacefully because he was consulted about his departure — something that didn’t happen four years ago when he was pushed out to make way for Conan O’Brien.
“Congratulations, Jimmy,” Leno said on Wednesday. “I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy.” The car aficionado added, “If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.”
While Leno may be getting left in the dust in world of NBC late-night television, he will have a sweet pay day. Fallon will also be making out like a bandit with a ‘Tonight Show’ salary.
Fallon poked fun at moving from his current show, which starts at 12:35 a.m., to the time slot beginning at 11:35 p.m.
“I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow,” he said.
Leno grudgingly left “Tonight” for the first time in 2009 to take a job as a talk show host in the 10 p.m.-11 p.m. time slot and make way for O’Brien. But behind the scenes, Leno fought the transition and returned to his job just two months later as both hosts suffered dismal ratings.
Fallon becomes just the sixth host in the venerable history of the 59-year-old “Tonight Show.”
Jay Leno will take a buyout of $15 million to pave the way for ‘Late Night’ host Jimmy Fallon to take over the show.
Johnny Carson redefined late-night talk at “Tonight” for 30 years, retiring in 1992. NBC’s decision to then hand his job to Leno and not then-“Late Night” host David Letterman stoked controversy and led Letterman to jump ship to CBS.
The 2014 succession has many in the industry scratching their heads, since Leno has consistently beaten Letterman and all other rivals in the cutthroat late-night ratings race for the last 20 years.
With Fallon as host, the show will originate from NBC’s headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza for the first time in more than 40 years — Carson moved “Tonight” to Los Angeles in 1972.
Also joining “Tonight” will be longtime “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels as executive producer. Michaels has served as the executive producer of Fallon’s current show, “Late Night.”
Mayor Bloomberg called the show’s return to New York part of an “incredible comeback we’ve worked to create in our city’s film and television industry.”
David Letterman, host of CBS’ ‘Late Show with David Letterman,’ joked that he was again looked over for the ‘Tonight Show’ job. He was passed over for Jay Leno when Johnny Carson retired after 30 years in 1992.
Gov. Cuomo said, “It is only fitting that as ‘The Tonight Show’ returns to our state, it will be headlined by New York’s own native son and resident, Jimmy Fallon.”
Meanwhile, as preparation for Fallon gets under way, Michelle Beadle, the host of “The Crossover,” is being displaced from her “30 Rock” studio, a source said, to make room for the new “Tonight” host, a source said.
“They are giving Jimmy a state-of-the-art studio, with a balcony, more audience seats, gorgeous dressing rooms and offices.”
One person not sorry to see Leno go is Joan Rivers, often a guest host under Carson.
“Jay has never spoken to me. Jay has never booked me on the show in 20 years,” she told the Daily News.
Zingers from Dave
David Letterman weighed in Wednesday about his archrival Jay Leno leaving “The Tonight Show.”
Jimmy Fallon was born on September 19th, 1974 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Fallon
September 19th, 1974
9 + 19 +1+9+7+4 = 49 = his life lesson = Happy. Smiling. Satisfied. Wish come true.
September 19th, 1974
9 + 19 +2+0+1+3 = 34 = his personal year (from September 19th, 2013 to September 18th, 2014) = Generating a buzz. Ratings spike.
34 year + 1 (January) = 35 = his personal month (from January 19th, 2014 to February 18th, 2014) = Inheriting The Tonight Show. Cashing in on previous good behavior. In it for the long haul.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
19447 613365 49
his path of destiny = 49 = Happy. Smiling. Satisfied. Wish come true.
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