Will Jimmy Fallon be staying up Late?
The Saturday Night Live alum is reportedly being wooed by NBC to take over Late Night hosting duties when Conan O'Brien moves to The Tonight Show in 2009.
According to the New York Times, Peacock execs are in talks with Fallon about signing a holding deal to keep the 32-year-old comic actor in the network fold as a possible O'Brien replacement for the 12:30 a.m. Late Night chores, though there's no assurance he'd actually get the gig.
Fallon's hosting credentials include filling in for David Letterman on CBS' Late Show in 2003 and emceeing the MTV Video Music Awards in 2002 and the MTV Movie Awards in 2005.
He would likely be one of several contenders, including possibly Carson Daly, whose Last Call follows O'Brien at 1:30 a.m. Daly has reportedly expressed interest in the earlier slot, but hasn't opened discussions with NBC, per the Times.
Fallon's holding agreement would, however, guarantee that whatever projects he ends up doing would be exclusive to the network, the newspaper reports.
Fallon's publicist did not respond to a call for comment on Thursday. But a source close to the comedian told the Times that a development deal was in the offing.
"Anything can still happen here," said the associate. "This deal is about bringing Jimmy back to NBC. But he could have a hit movie and not want to jump back into television."
As for succeeding O'Brien, the source said: "That's a couple of years away. There are so many shoes to fall in this thing between now and then."
Marc Liepis, a spokesman for NBC, told E! Online talk of Fallon taking over for O'Brien was premature. "The stories are speculation and unconfirmed."
In the early '90s, before Johnny Carson called it quits, NBC signed another former SNL star, Dennis Miller, along with several other comics, among them Jerry Seinfeld, to similar holding pacts. Jay Leno eventually succeeded Carson and Seinfeld got his now legendary sitcom. When Letterman, Leno's chief rival for the Tonight gig, left NBC's Late Night desk for CBS, ex-SNLer Dana Carvey emerged as NBC's top choice for Late Night. But Carvey declined and the network turned to O'Brien.
Fallon has had a long history with the network, having joined Saturday Night Live as a featured regular back in 1988 before becoming one of its more popular cast members, eventually teaming up with Tina Fey to cohost the Weekend Update segment.
Since exiting the sketch-comedy show two years ago, Fallon's film career has hardly proved blockbuster, with a couple of modest successes, 2004's Taxi and 2005's Fever Pitch, as well as voice role in last year's widely panned animated film Arthur and the Invisibles.
He currently appears in the art-house flick Factory Girl opposite Sienna Miller. Next up is Eliot Rockett, an indie comedy-drama costarring Sharon Stone and Lucy Liu in which he'll play the title character, a commitment-phobe who's devoted to his job and unable to commit to his girlfriend.