Jimmy Fallon formally named next "Late Night" host

Mon May 12, 2008 2:52pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Saturday Night Live" veteran Jimmy Fallon was officially named on Monday to take Conan O'Brien's place on NBC next year when O'Brien succeeds Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show."

The announcement, which had been expected for weeks, was made during a press event from NBC headquarters in New York where O'Brien's "Late Night" show is taped.

The appointment of Fallon, long considered a leading contender for NBC's 12:35 a.m. time slot, completes a talent shuffle set in motion when the General Electric Co-owned network announced in 2004 that Leno would retire from "Tonight" in 2009 and that O'Brien would replace him.

"It's going to be a grind, it's going to be hard, but I'm going to go at it full force," the boyish-looking Fallon told reporters on a conference call. "The fact that I'm stepping into David Letterman and Conan O'Brien's shoes is very exciting."

Fallon said he also was excited to go back to work for Lorne Michaels, who was his boss as producer of "Saturday Night Live" and whose company co-produces "Late Night."

Asked how much his new job would pay, Fallon joked, "I keep asking Lorne and he's telling me not to worry about.

"They're paying me enough," he said. "I just want to live comfortably in Dubai."

Fallon, 33, appeared on "SNL" for six seasons and was co-host of its "Weekend Update" segment. He left the program to focus on making feature films, although such efforts as "Fever Pitch" and "Taxi" fell flat at box offices.   Continued...

<p>Jimmy Fallon arrives for a program honoring Billy Crystal as the 2007 Mark Twain Prize recipient at the Kennedy Center in Washington, October 11, 2007. REUTERS/Molly Riley</p>