Is NBC Talking Exit Plan for Leno?

Sources say network is worried about losing young audience, eying Jimmy Fallon

By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 3, 2013 7:00 AM CST

(Newser) – The end could be nigh again for Jay Leno: The Hollywood Reporter, citing "two high-level industry sources," says that NBC is looking to make the 2013-2014 season of the Tonight Show the comedian's last. Leno's heir apparent this time around? Jimmy Fallon, as the network reportedly is looking to shore up the 18-49 demographic, which is increasingly landing in the arms of Jimmy Kimmel. “The more time Jimmy Kimmel is in that slot, the more the young audience goes that way, the harder it is for Jimmy [Fallon] to keep that audience,” says a source.

Leno still plays well in the ratings, and he's nowhere near looking to retire—especially with rival David Letterman still in the game. But if Letterman should retire, CBS would almost certainly woo Fallon if NBC doesn't lock him up. "I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution (in Fallon)," says an NBC veteran. The sources say NBC is looking to make a May announcement.

Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno pose backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
In this Wednesday, July 13, 2011 file photo, Jay Leno presents the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
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