Jamie Granet-Bederman, a longtime producer of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” who has worked with the host for more than a decade, will take over showrunner duties for the venerable NBC late-night program, the latest change to the series’ top echelon of executives.
Gavin Purcell, who has been leading the program on an interim basis since late last year, will return to working on a development deal that he has at Universal Television.
In picking Granet-Bederman, Fallon and “Tonight” are choosing to stay with a show insider, after meeting with challenges when outside producers have come in to lead efforts. NBC in November parted ways with Jim Bell, an NBC News and NBC Sports veteran, who was named to lead the program as it met with ratings challenges against CBS’ “Late Show With Stephen Colbert.” Another “Tonight” executive producer, Josh Lieb, a former Comedy Central producer, left “Tonight” in 2016 after helping to launch Fallon’s tenure on the show.
Most of TV’s late-night programs remain under the oversight of a stable core of top producers. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” has been under the oversight of executive Chris Licht since 2016, and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” recently named a new executive producer after staying under the aegis of Jill Leiderman for nearly 15 years.
NBC’s “Tonight” is in a more precarious position than it has been under previous hosts. CBS’ “Late Show” commands the most viewers among late-night programs, spurred in no small part by its host’s willingness to respond to the latest headlines and cast aspersion on President Trump. In recent weeks, ABC’s Kimmel has also won better viewership than Fallon. Both also command a bigger audience among viewers between 18 and 49, the demographic most coveted by advertisers and a benchmark that has in the recent past been important to top executives at NBCUniversal.
Granet-Bederman has worked with Fallon since he hosted “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” She previously focused on booking and has gradually expanded her duties. She will for a time work with Nedaa Sweiss as co-showrunner. Sweiss previously served as head writer for “The Tonight Show,” and a writer at CBS’ “Late Late Show with James Corden,” and and has sitcoms in development at ABC and CBS. She will help Granet-Bederman shape the creative tone of the program before leaving in 2021 to tend to other obligations.
Granet-Bederman has played a role in helping “Tonight” navigate through a tumultous time for all of the nation’s late-night franchises. Fallon gained notice for weeks of “at home” shows that gave viewers a unique view of the host during the coronavirus pandemic. Fallon still talked to guests via videoconferencing software, but introduced audiences to his wife, Nancy Juvonen and their two daughters, who began to have a greater on-air presence (and, in Juvonen’s case, in production). “Tonight” was among the first of the broadcast-network late-night programs to return to in-studio production, though it continues to display the more relaxed tone that most of the format has embraced in an era when live audiences are not able to gather to watch the productions when they are taped.
““Is this the new normal?” Granet-Bederman asked during an interview with Variety in March. “It’s just, every day, it gets a little more normal, I guess.”
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” is executive produced by Lorne Michaels. Gerard Bradford, a longtime Fallon associate, remains in his role as one of the show’s top producers.