As predicted, it’s now being reported that Conan O’Brien will stop taping of The Tonight Show after next week, and that the show’s former, long-time host, Jay Leno, will replace him. The Tonight Show will remain on NBC and will reportedly air at 11:35 pm.
E! News host Giuliana Rancic tweeted, “Conan O’Brien is pulling the plug and will have his last show next Friday the 22nd … word is Leno just signed a contract to return as host of The Tonight Show.”
TMZ first reported the news that Jay will take back The Tonight Show, which he hosted for 17 years, until he announced his retirement in 2004: “Jay Leno has made a new deal with NBC which gives him the Tonight Show from 11:35-12:35. Conan O’Brien is out and Jay is restored.”
Last year, Conan replaced Jay as the host of The Tonight Show, and Conan left NBC’s Late Night With Conan O’Brien in NYC to host The Tonight Show in L.A. Jimmy Fallon now hosts Late Night With Jimmy Fallon at 12:05 on NBC. But last year, Jay changed his mind about retiring, and came back to NBC to host The Jay Leno Show — an hour-long variety show which airs 10 pm.
Due to poor ratings from both Jay’s show at 10 pm and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien at 11:35 pm, NBC had said previously that they wanted to move The Tonight Show back an hour to 12:05 am.
Conan said he refused to change time slots. So instead, NBC is pushing Conan out, and giving Jay Leno his old job back, at its original time.