NBC has announced Jimmy Fallon will be taking over 'The Tonight Show.' (Source: MGN Online)
(RNN) - NBC has announced Jay Leno's departure from The Tonight Show will happen in the spring of 2014 after 22 years, and Jimmy Fallon will be his replacement.
After months of speculation, a slew of news stories, a ton of late-night jokes and a Leno-Fallon duet, the network has said the host of NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon will transition into the new hosting duties.
According to the AP, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels will take over as producer of the new Tonight 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 the NBC news release.
Fallon joked that he's "really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow."
The show will originate from New York. It will be set at the 30 Rock studio that houses Fallon's Late Night. The studio is undergoing renovation slated to be completed in 2014, right in time for the launch of The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.
This is not the first time Leno has stepped aside. In 2009, Conan O'Brien took over the Tonight Show from Leno, who was vocal about not wanting to relinquish his hosting job. Due to poor ratings in 2010, and NBC's fear another network would sign Leno, they offered Leno a half hour show before the Tonight Show, pushing the start time to 12:05 a.m.
Amid the public relations disaster for the broadcasting company, Leno returned to Tonight and O'Brien resigned.
Leno took over Tonight from longtime host Johnny Carson in 1994, even though Carson wanted David Letterman to succeed him, and Letterman moved to CBS.
The contentious fight for the position was made into an HBO movie titled The Late Shift.
Fallon, whose background was in standup comedy, joined Saturday Night Live in the 1998-1999 season. He made his mark on the show with impressions and song parodies before taking over the Weekend Update desk with Tina Fey in 2000.
After leaving Saturday Night Live in 2004, Fallon starred in a few lackluster films, including Taxi and Fever Pitch.
In March 2009, Fallon returned to NBC and took over Late Night.
"Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years," said Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal in a news release. "His long reign as the highest-rated late-night host is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to his viewers and to NBC.
"We are purposefully making this change when Jay is No. 1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was No. 1. 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."
It's unclear who will take over Fallon's current show. An announcement is expected soon.
The announcement comes on the heels of Fallon signing a new deal with NBC.
Leno's contract with the network is up in September 2014.
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UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – April 3, 2012 – Jay Leno, longtime host of NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," announced today that he will wrap up what will be 22 years of headlining the iconic late-nightMore >>
NBC has announced that Jimmy Fallon will take over the 'Tonight Show' from Jay Leno in spring 2014.More >>