There are big changes taking place over at The Tonight Show. It has been announced that showrunner Josh Lieb is leaving the program so he can return solely to writing.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Lieb has already signed an overall deal with Universal Television, which means he will oversee content exclusively for the studio. NBC was quick to announce Josh Lieb’s replacements, confirming that producers Katie Hockmeyer, Gerard Bradford, and Mike DiCenzo have seen their roles expanded and will pick up the slack that Lieb’s departure has caused.
Hockmeyer will now oversee the production of The Tonight Show, while Bradford and DiCenzo are now in charge of its creative output.
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) October 24, 2016
As you can probably imagine, there was an outpouring of sorrow from the team over at The Tonight Show following the announcement that Josh Lieb would be departing, with Jimmy Fallon releasing a statement on Monday that heaped praise on the work his comrade has done.
“Josh has been a tremendous asset and has played a key role in helping us successfully launch The Tonight Show,” Fallon declared in his release. “We will miss him and wish him all the best with this great new opportunity.”
But while Jimmy Fallon was obviously despondent to see such an integral cog from the Tonight Show machine depart, he was quick to look to the future, too.
In his next sentence, Fallon declared, “We are excited to have a great trio to fill his shoes. Katie, Mike, and Gerard, who have been with me since Late Night, will be expanding their roles, and they and the rest of the team will help us continue to have fun and success.”
Meanwhile, Josh Lieb released a statement regarding his departure, noting just how conflicted he feels about his exit from The Tonight Show.
“This is obviously bittersweet – there’s no show in the world more fun that The Tonight Show,” Lieb declared before opening up about why the offer from Universal was simply too good to turn down. “But I’d like to write more, and try different things, and – frankly – spend a little more time with my kids.”
Lieb made sure to pay tribute to Jimmy Fallon, who replaced Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show back in February of 2014 while insisting that the trifecta that’s stepping into replace him will make the transition easy.
“Jimmy’s a joy to work with,” Lieb remarked. “And the troika taking over for me is more than qualified. You won’t even notice I’m gone.”
It’s not really that surprising that after close to three years in his position as showrunner, a role that includes as much producing as it does writing, Lieb has decided to now focus entirely on the latter. While studying at Harvard, Lieb was the editor of the renowned college humor magazine Harvard Lampoon, whose alumni include Conan O’Brien, B.J. Novak, Colin Jost, Greg Daniels, Lawrence O’Donnell, George Plimpton, and John Updike.
‘Tonight Show’ Shuffles Top Duties as Producer Josh Lieb Takes Universal TV Deal https://t.co/MSqGzZPHQf
— Variety (@Variety) October 24, 2016
After graduating from Harvard, Lieb wrote for the television shows The Simpsons and Newsradio, and he published two books, I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President, both of which were on the New York Times best-seller list. But it was his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart that really set him apart as one of the most prestigious behind-the-scenes talents working in television. Lieb helped The Daily Show win seven Emmys during his time as a writer, and he was integral as an executive producer on the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, too.
In October of 2013, Jimmy Fallon and the new team for The Tonight Show hired Lieb as its showrunner, and he has been labelled as an integral reason for why it’s still the most popular late-night talk show across key demographics on television.
[Featured Image by Mike Coppola/NBC/Getty Images]