It's been a big week for late night. After Jay Leno's digs at NBC earned attention, the talk show host earned even more when it news leaked on March 20 that "Late Show" host Jimmy Fallon may end up hosting "The Tonight Show" instead.
While Leno hasn't confirmed the news, the New York Times reported early on that NBC "made a commitment" to Fallon about "The Tonight Show," and that the L.A.-based talk show would move back to New York to accommodate him. Today, NBC confirmed that they are creating a studio for Fallon, who, aside from joking on Wednesday night that the "Late Show" was going to turn "into a diving competition," has still remained silent.
Here's the thing about late night: it's hugely political. If you remember, Conan O'Brien was run out of "The Tonight Show" after hosting from June 2009 to January 2010 when Jay Leno allegedly wanted his gig back, leading to O'Brien's move to TBS. O'Brien's fans were upset, Leno's fans were not, and Jimmy Kimmel spoke out against Leno publicly, who then went on Oprah to discuss it. To make an already long story short: Things got messy, which could now happen again. Unless, of course, Leno lets his contract expire in Fall 2014 and calmly hands over the torch to Fallon -- which could make up for the O'Brien-gate of early 2010.
Nobody likes change. Ending jobs and transitions are difficult (just ask anyone who's lost their job and been forced to make sense of their lives). But Jay Leno has been hosting "The Tonight Show" since 1992, which has given him ample time to prove himself as a pop culture icon. Leno was just a young, 42-year-old comedian when Carson gave him his chance. Fallon is 38, and he's worthy of a chance of his own. Entertainment -- and specifically comedy -- relies on change. And while Jimmy's youthful tendencies may be frowned upon by die-hard Leno fans, it's key to remember that when Leno first started, there were Carson fans who objected.
Ultimately, it's also a chance for redemption: Leno was villainized after (indirectly) revoking O'Brien's crack at "The Tonight Show," and to graciously move onto other projects will leave Leno with a positive late night legacy, as opposed to that of a man unwilling to move on. Leno's only 61 -- he still has more than enough time to try new things and pursue new projects. Especially since that in entertainment, change is what makes comedy great.