David Letterman, who has intimate experience with how NBC sucks at late night transitions, weighed in on news that Jimmy Fallon will in fact replace Jay Leno as the new host of The Tonight Show. Letterman said in his monologue, "How many of you folks earlier today saw the white smoke coming out of the chimney at NBC, anybody see that? We have a new pope."
Obviously, this was show biz deja vu, since Conan O'Brien replaced Jay Leno as Tonight Show host in 2009—only to be ousted and replaced by Leno in 2010. Letterman noted that, saying, "Didn't we just go through this? Jay Leno now is being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened. I mean, it’s crazy. He’s being replaced by a younger late-night talk show host—what could possibly go wrong? Honestly. They had pretty good luck with this in the past.”" He added, "NBC announced his official date of departure... no word on his official date of return."
The CBS late night host acknowledged Leno's reign as #1 late night talk show host and how he will be going out on top, "Congratulations to Jay, a job well done—how many times can the guy be pushed out of the job? What's the matter with NBC? What are they thinking?" He asked Paul Schaefer is NBC could push him out of his job, and Schaefer said it seems like they do what they want.
Letterman told the audience he's known Leno for 38 years, "Good luck to Jay, I know he'll be out on the road, taking care of business.. Congratulations on a nice long run on the Tonight Show if in fact if you're not coming back."
Leno mentioned the news in his monologue, "Folks, I got to be honest with you, I had a really awkward day today. I had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn’t get the Tonight Show again. Awful! Terrible!" He congratulated Fallon, "He’s a hell of a guy! He’s going to do a great job!" and said, "We’ve all fought, kicked and scratched to get this network up to fifth place, now we have to keep it there! Jimmy, don’t let it slip into sixth! We are counting on you."
In last night's Late Night, Jimmy Fallon acknowledged the news and thanked his audience, crew and the Roots:
And O'Brien congratulated Fallon… but didn't mention Leno.