Jay Leno Announces Departure From Tonight Show; Jimmy Fallon Will Take Over

Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon pose in the press room at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon pose in the press room at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills

After weeks of jokes and barbs about his departure from “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno has announced he’s leaving the NBC late night show in spring 2014.

Leno will be replaced by “Late Night’s” Jimmy Fallon and the show will move to New York City and be executive-produced by “Saturday Night Live” honcho Lorne Michaels.

It appears that Leno will soon be enjoying some downtime with one of his biggest passions – cars!

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“Congratulations Jimmy,” Leno said in a statement released on Wednesday. “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.”

As for Fallon, he’s excited to take over the iconic show and show up on TV a little earlier in the night.

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“I’m really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow.” Fallon said in a statement.

Steve Burke, Chief Executive Officer of NBCUniversal, explained that they wanted Leno – who is still late night’s ratings king – to go out on the top of his game, just like his predecessor.

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“We are purposefully making this change when Jay is #1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was number one. Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time. I’m thrilled he will become the sixth host of ‘The Tonight Show’ at exactly the right moment, in conjunction with our coverage of next year’s Winter Olympic Games from Sochi, Russia,” he said in a statement.

Leno has hosted “The Tonight Show” since taking over the reins from Johnny Carson in 1992. Leno briefly left the show in 2009, while Conan O’Brien took over the job, but then returned in 2010 to host again.

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-- Jesse Spero

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