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Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Speculation swirls over Fallon replacing Leno

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LOS ANGELES -- As Jay Leno lobs potshots at ratings-challenged NBC in his Tonight monologues, speculation is swirling the network is taking steps to replace the host with Jimmy Fallon next year and move the show from Burbank to New York.

NBC confirmed Wednesday it's creating a new studio for Fallon in New York, where he hosts Late Night. But the network did not comment on a report that the digs at its Rockefeller Plaza headquarters may become home to a transplanted, Fallon-hosted Tonight.

The New York Times reported the plan in a Wednesday story, citing unidentified network executives. The Hollywood Reporter had a March 1 report about a Fallon-Leno switch, which was denied by the network.

Looming over NBC is its messy, failed effort to replace Leno with Conan O'Brien, which ended in 2010 with Leno regaining Tonight and NBC losing O'Brien -- who got a US$45-million exit deal -- to TBS. Leno's current Tonight contract expires in September 2014.

Fallon contacted Leno in an effort to help smooth the potential switch, according to a Hollywood Reporter story Wednesday.

The latest roiling of the late-night waters began in January when ABC moved Jimmy Kimmel Live back to 11:35 p.m. Eastern to offer direct competition to Leno and CBS's David Letterman.

With the potential for Kimmel, 45, to draw advertiser-favoured young viewers away from Leno (62) and Letterman (65), it's unsurprising that their networks might step up their succession planning. At 38, Fallon is the youngest of the pack.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 22, 2013 D2

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