For those wondering about some specifics when it comes to the future of “The Tonight Show” franchise, know this: There is at least some confirmation out there now about how long Jay Leno is going to serve as the frontman for the show.
According to a new report from Deadline, Leno is going to continue to be the man in charge of the show until Thursday, February 6, where he will likely have some sort of grand send-off in order to pass the reigns to Jimmy Fallon. While we’re sure that “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” will air at some point in the weeks following that, we may not have more confirmation on that until some of the deals with the 2016 Olympic Games are finalized. (You may hate it, but expect more prime-time coverage on NBC bundled together, since it did so well in the ratings last time.)
One positive wrinkle to this story, whatever you think of Leno or the quality of his humor, is that his staff (which includes cast and crew) will continue to be paid until September, which was when Jay’s contract is actually set to expire with the network. This is something that was also done following Conan O’Brien’s exit years ago, and it is a great way to take care of the unsung heroes of this industry.
As for Leno’s own future, we know that NBC would like to keep him in the fold, and continue to occasionally bring him back for a series of specials down the road. But will this really be enough for Jay? The man is a performing machine, and even does some standup when he is not working on his late-night talk show. We’ll probably find out an answer to this when he is actually off the air for a time.