Three years after NBC pulled a hilarious prank on Conan O'Brien by convincing him to move across the country and then, when he got there, promptly setting him on fire, the network has chosen a new fair maiden to sacrifice to the ravenous monster of late night television programming: Jimmy Fallon.
The New York Times reports that the network "has made a commitment" to promote current Late Night host Jimmy Fallon to Jay Leno's position on The Tonight Show. And soon. While the hand-off is expected to happen by the fall 2014 expiration of Leno's contract—at the latest—the Hollywood Reporter writes that it could happen as early as next February, to give Fallon a boost during the Winter Olympics. (If there's one thing people love about the Winter Olympics, it's The Tonight Show.) Even if Fallon took over Tonight in February, Leno would be unable to join a rival network until his contract expired in September.
As a final fuck-you to Conan, NBC is expected to move the program back to New York City, where it made its debut a thousand years ago in 1954. The show moved to Burbank, California in 1972 to give it better access to Hollywood guests. Also, because host Johnny Carson was, as the Times puts it, "looking for […] a different lifestyle," a process that sounds like it involved vast quantities of cocoa butter.
Before Conan briefly borrowed The Tonight Show from its cruel bitch mistress Jay Leno in 2009, there was speculation that the show would be moved back to O'Brien's home base of New York. However, per the Times, "NBC insisted 'Tonight' had become a Hollywood-centric show" and refused to move it back to the East Coast.
The network is reportedly eager to get Fallon into Leno's 11:35 timeslot as quickly as possible because ABC has recently moved Jimmy Kimmel Live! opposite it. Executives are said to be concerned that, if they delay a handoff for too long, Kimmel's younger, hipper show will lock up the next generation of viewers who go to bed late but not THAT late before Fallon has a chance.
It's unclear what will happen to Late Night after Fallon moves up to The Tonight Show slot. Maybe NBC will offer it to Conan and then, when he shows up for his first night hosting, add "by the way, we're not filming this."