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Jay Leno’s Last ‘Tonight Show’ to Air Feb. 6

NBC to pull latenight host on the eve of Olympics coverage

Jay Leno’s last “Tonight Show” on NBC will air Feb. 6, sources confirm to Variety.

Tonight Show” exec producer Debbie Vickers made the announcement today to employees of the show, who will be paid through end of September, 2014, when Leno’s contract with NBC expires.

Jimmy Fallon is set to take over the latenight show sometime following NBC’s Olympics coverage, which runs Feb. 7-23.

The decision to move Leno has been a peculiar one, given the host’s recent dominance in ratings.

In Nielsen numbers for the second quarter of this year, NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” was easily the top-rated hour in latenight, toppling fellow competitors David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel. Leno’s 3.575 million in total viewers (up 2% from last year) was well out in front of Letterman (2.7 million) and Kimmel (2.5 million).

But Fallon’s ratings have also been rising, with the “Late Night” host up 16% from last year in adults 18-34 last quarter, averaging 1.78 million viewers.

Friday’s announcement, first reported by Deadline, wasn’t the first time Leno received a “Tonight Show” end date from NBC. The latenight host was famously ousted in May of 2009 in order to make room for Conan O’Brien, who only briefly sat behind the “Tonight Show” desk (six months) before Leno took over the show again in 2010.

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