NBCUniversal made it official Wednesday that Jay Leno will leave as host of “The Tonight Show” in 2014 and be replaced by Jimmy Fallon, who will originate the show from New York City.
“The Tonight Show” has taped at NBC studios in Burbank since 1972 after then-host Johnny Carson moved the show from New York. Leno took over from Carson in 1992.
Leno, 62, leaves “The Tonight Show” at the top of the ratings, just as Carson did when his tenure ended. However, the show’s ratings have been chipped away at by the now numerous competitors in the late-night slot.
NBC is banking that Fallon, 38, who is nearly a quarter century younger than Leno, will be able to revitalize the show. Fallon hosts “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” which airs on NBC following “The Tonight Show.”
“Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time,” said NBC Universal Chief Steve Burke in a prepared statement. “I’m thrilled he will become the sixth host of ‘The Tonight Show’ at exactly the right moment.”
The loss of “The Tonight Show” is another hit to the 34-acre former NBC Studios campus on Alameda Avenue.
NBC sold the buildings in 2007 to a private developer and the network has gradually moved its operations from the site to Universal City next door. News station NBC4 is expected to vacate the campus in early 2014.
This is the second time that the show has left Burbank. When Conan O’Brien took over as host during a short, ill-fated run from June 2009 to January 2010, the show taped from Universal City.