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Leno Announces Departure From Tonight Show [POLL/VIDEO]

Jay Leno says he will be leaving NBC’s “Tonight Show” next spring, to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon.

(L-R) Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno sing a duet about the rumors about the future of the Tonight Show
(L-R) Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno sing a duet about the rumors about the future of the Tonight Show (NBC)

Leno announced the move Wednesday in a news release.

“Congratulations Jimmy,” said Leno. “I hope you’re as lucky as me and hold on to the job until you’re the old guy. If you need me, I’ll be at the garage.”

NBC also confirms that the show will be moving to New York City when Fallon takes over. “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels will take over as producer of the new “Tonight Show.”

The move has been widely reported but not confirmed by the network until now. NBC reportedly just wrapped up negotiations with Fallon on a contract extension.

The network had kind words for Leno, who had been making one-liners at his employers expense in recent weeks. “Jay Leno is an entertainment icon, making millions of people laugh every weeknight for more than 20 years,” said NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. “His long reign as the highest-rated late-night host is a testament to his work ethic and dedication to his viewers and to NBC.”

Fallon was “really excited to host a show that starts today instead of tomorrow” he said in a statement.

NBC did not say who will replace Fallon in his current time slot, which is one hour later than the “Tonight Show.” Another SNL alum, Seth Meyers, is rumored to be headed for the show according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Leno took over the Tonight Show in 1992 and has been with the show ever since except for a seven-month period in 2009-10 when Conan O’Brien hosted the show as Leno moved to a nightly 10 p.m. slot.

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