If only Conan O’Brien had waited: NBC confirmed Wednesday that Jay Leno is stepping down for good and will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon in 2014.
Leno has hosted The Tonight Show for 22 years, except for a brief hiatus in 2010 when O’Brien took the helm for seven months. O’Brien was promised a full contract but was bought out when Leno returned to the show.
“Congratulations Jimmy. I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage,” Leno said in a statement Wednesday.
Fallon, who hosts Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, said “I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.”
The Tonight Show will return to New York from its current Los Angeles home when Fallon takes the reins, NBC said.
When Johnny Carson hosted – he was replaced by Leno in 1992 – the show also took place in New York.
Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, who has worked extensively with Fallon, will take over the show from Debbie Vickers. The relocated show will be broadcast from NBC’s headquarters in New York’s Rockefeller Center.
Programming plans for the 12:35 a.m. time slot, currently filled by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, are in development and will be announced soon.
O’Brien, meanwhile, will continue to host Conan on TBS until 2015.