Citing two high level industry sources, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting
that NBC plans to announce the retirement of longtime “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno in May.
Leno, whose contract runs through 2014, has remained silent on the rumors. A representative for the popular host told the publication: “We do not speculate on rumor."
The Reporter attributes the move to a desire by NBC executives to replace Leno in the highly coveted 11:35 p.m. time slot with “Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon, who appeals to a younger audience.
Fallon is seen by NBC executives as a better match for ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, who has proven competitive to Leno among 18- to 49-year-olds in that time slot.
"Jay wins overall, but on any given night, it's neck-and-neck in 18-49,” a network veteran, who could not confirm the Leno rumors, told the publication. “I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution [in Fallon.]"
A network plan to dump Leno in 2009 in favor of Conan O’Brien caused an embarrassing feud and left NBC with a costly settlement for O’Brien, who now hosts a show on TBS, according to the Reporter.
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