NBC has decided to replace Jay Leno as host of the Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon and return the show to the place where it originated in 1954 -- New York City, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing several senior TV executives involved in the decision. The changeover is expected to occur no later than 2014, when Leno's current contract expires, the newspaper said, quoting a senior exec involved in the discussions as remarking that there is no way on earth that this is not going to happen. (The network is already constructing a new Tonight show set for Fallon at its headquarters in Rockefeller Plaza, the Times said.) The report might help explain Leno's recent acerbic remarks in his monologue about NBC's inability to find a longterm solution to its ratings weakness. On Monday, he compared network executives with snakes, triggering gasps among his studio audience. Complicating matters is the fact that Leno's Tonight remains No. 1 at late night among total adults and usually among younger viewers as well. But NBC programmers reportedly are concerned that ABC's Jimmy Kimmel will continue to draw viewers away from Leno as he establishes himself in the late-night period, and they may wish to push the transition from Leno to Fallon before Kimmel locks in a foothold among the 18-49 age group. If NBC proceeds with its plans to oust Leno as host of Tonight, it would mark the second time in five years that it has done so. When former NBC chief Jeff Zucker replaced him with Conan O'Brien in 2009, the move produced such an onerous backlash that the network was forced to reinstall Leno as host of the show nine months later. Still undecided: who will replace Fallon on The Late Show?
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