Jimmy Fallon, Lorne Michaels

Jason Kempin/WireImage.com

Jimmy Fallon will be the new Conan O'Brien, who will be the new Jay Leno.

As for the old Jay Leno? That's for another press conference.

Today it was NBC announcing what had been long suspected, and outright leaked: that Fallon will assume O'Brien's Late Night hosting chair once O'Brien assumes Leno's Tonight Show hosting chair next year.

"It's a comedian's dream to get this job, to work with writers and try to be funny every night," Fallon said from NBC's fabled "30 Rock" headquarters, where he used to star on Saturday Night Live, and where he'll star on Late Night.

Late Night executive producer Lorne Michaels said the Fallon era "probably" will begin in the first six months of 2009.

"I think when the transition happens it'll be as seamless as possible," Michaels said.

Leno was the 800-pound gorilla at 30 Rock, there but not there.

The longtime late-night ratings champ, who set his exit date for Tonight back in 2005, has been rumored to be rethinking retirement, and maybe even taking his act to another network. NBC execs had nothing to say today about Leno's future at their network, other than to say the diplomatically correct thing: "Everyone wants Jay Leno to be part of the NBC family."

Fallon, voted most likely to succeed David Letterman in kindergarten, comes to Late Night by way of SNL, where he starred for eight years, and the movies (Taxi, Fever Pitch).

At 33, he is already three years older and infinitely more well-known than O'Brien was when he took over for Letterman in 1993. Fallon said he'd recently returned to stand-up to get in shape for his new gig.

"I'm very excited about this...It's going to be grind, from all the advice I've heard from everybody," Fallon said. "I'm ready to work really hard."

Today's press conference was batting practice for Fallon, who responded to nearly every question with a quip.

  • How much was he getting paid? "They're paying me enough," he said. "I just want to live comfortably. In Dubai."
  • How long was his contract? "150 years," he said, adding that he had the Willard Scott Today Show deal.
  • How was he planning to follow O'Brien? "I'm going to dye my hair red," he said, "and get lifts in my shoes."

But seriously, folks, Fallon said he wasn't planning to reinvent the talk-show format. Late Night will continue to tape in O'Brien's old studio and will continue to be called Late Night, "changing the With Conan O'Brien part," he added.

Today's NBC press conference took the place of what would normally be the presentation of the network's fall schedule. Breaking with tradition, NBC announced its 2008-09 plans last month. Not that the Peacock was without other, non-Fallon news. The network announced a new matrimonial-minded reality series, Momma's Boys, to be executive produced by Ryan Seacrest and reality veteran Andrew Glassman.

Elsewhere, Leno's still-kicking Tonight Show announced that country singer Dwight Yoakam's scheduled appearance on Thursday will make him the franchise's most-booked musical guest ever, with 24 appearances.

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