Will the "Tonight Show" drop "with Jay Leno" off of the title screen for good within the next year? According to some rumors circulating around the Internet, NBC is trying to force the longtime 62-year-old host off of the late night television talk show when his contract is up in 2014. So with Jay gone, it seems like the next in line would be "Late Night" host Jimmy Fallon. Or would NBC bring in some new talent for the coveted hosting gig? Perhaps another fiasco will erupt like when Leno "retired" in 2009 to allow Conan O'Brien to take his place but then came back after some low ratings. As of now, the retirement news is just gossip.
One reason to force Jay out and replace him with a youthful talent is because "Jimmy Kimmel Live" recently dropped down into the same 11:35 pm timeslot taking the younger audience away from Leno. Having Fallon take over could easily ring that demographic back to NBC.
According to an unnamed source: "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 ... Kimmel has done extremely well. Jay wins overall, but on any given night, it's neck-and-neck in 18-49. I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution (in Fallon)."
Also, David Letterman, Jay's longtime rival, is set to retire after his contract is up in 2014, leaving his chair open for some new talent as well. More rumors are saying that CBS might try to get Fallon for that role but at the very least a younger host will take the spot. So it is the same story for NBC's viewership in this case as well.
When you consider the fact that Jay's contract is up in 2014, these rumors become more plausible and realistic. For these reasons and many ratings issues, it looks like Jay Leno will either retire on his own accord or basically be forced out by his company. This just seems like the best outcome for NBC.
We must remember what happened in 2009, though. Jay literally retired. He left his post, Conan replaced him, ratings were bad, NBC fired Conan and brought Jay back. It was terrible for O'Brien but allowed Jay to come back for at least a few more years. Conan is now hosting his own show on TBS but should we count him out of the race for Leno's or even Letterman's seat? What do you think of this whole late night game of musical chairs that is likely to happen next year?