NBC will reportedly pay Jay Leno $15 million, the amount of his salary, to leave The Tonight Show months ahead of his contract expiring.
Mr. Leno, who has hosted the show for 22 years, wasn’t supposed to step down until September of this next year, but accepted an early offer while NBC works to pave the way for his replacement, Jimmy Fallon, according to the New York Daily News.
The late-night host made the much-awaited announcement Wednesday night, joked that he’s “counting on” Mr. Fallon to keep the network’s ratings high.
“I just have one request of Jimmy. We’ve all fought, kicked and scratched to get this network up to fifth place, OK?” he said in his opening monologue. “Now we have to keep it there. Jimmy don’t let it slip into sixth. We’re counting on you.”
Industry insiders predict that Mr. Fallon will see his $5 million salary for hosting “The Late Show” boosted to $12 million when he goes up against CBS’ David Letterman and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, the Daily Mail reported.