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Jimmy Fallon Fires All 164 ‘Tonight’ Employees As Show Takes New York

Jimmy Fallon

When Jimmy Fallon moves The Tonight Show to New York City on February 17, he’ll take over without the help of any of the 164 current employees who work on the show in Burbank, California, where The Tonight Show has taped since 1972.

As required by law whenever a company plans a “mass layoff,” NBCUniversal — the entertainment conglomerate that owns the NBC television network — posted a notice with the California Employment Development Department that it planned to eliminate 164 positions at The Tonight Show beginning February 14. The layoffs will continue until April 4.

NBC has not said if any of the soon-to-be-former Tonight Show employees have been offered relocation packages to work in New York City for Jimmy Fallon, but that appears not to be the case.

“We have encouraged those 164 employees to take a look at jobs throughout the company and apply for them,” is all an NBC spokesperson would tell the entertainment news site The Wrap.

Presumably those jobs include positions in New York with Jimmy Fallon, but from the statement it appears that NBC is not set on moving any specific employees there.

The current version of The Tonight Show, starring Jay Leno, airs its final program on Thursday, February 6. Leno has hosted the show since 1992, except for a 10-month hiatus from May 2009 to March 2010 when Conan O’Brien took over as host, only to be squeezed out by low ratings and Leno’s desire to return.

By moving The Tonight Show to New York with an entirely new staff, Jimmy Fallon appears to be insulating himself from any repeat performance of an unexpected Jay Leno comeback.

On the other hand, while Jimmy Fallon’s current NBC show, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, scored a 2.2 overnight rating Friday, its highest in four years, it was clearly helped by Leno’s Tonight Show registering a 3.9 rating, its own highest since October 24, 2012. During the run-up to the presidential election, President Barack Obama was a Tonight Show guest.

The previous week had been Leno’s second-highest rated week of the current TV season. With Leno going out on a strong ratings note, Jimmy Fallon will likely feel immediate pressure to match and maintain those numbers, considering the history of Conan O’Brien’s ill-fated tenure behind the Tonight Show desk.

Leno’s final guest is scheduled to be comedian Billy Crystal, who was also Leno’s first guest almost 22 years ago. Taking over the 12:30 pm late night slot, which was originated by David Letterman in 1982, then taken over by Conan O’Brien in 1993 when Letterman moved to CBS going head-to-head with Leno at 11:30, will be Seth Meyers.

A writer for Saturday Night Live who anchored that show’s “Weekend Update” segment, Meyers left SNL after last night’s show. His new version of Late Night starts February 17.

Jimmy Fallon will open his New York-based Tonight Show run with a powerhouse guest lineup of movie star Will Smith and iconic rock group U2.

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