Late night television has always been a common place for comedians. In the past, Jay Leno and David Letterman were central figures on late night, but the past few years, especially the past few months in particular, have seen the evolution of many new late night television shows.
One of the major changes to late night television was the retirement of the great Jay Leno as Jimmy Fallon took over. Jay Leno hosted his final episode of NBC’s The Tonight Show several weeks ago and passed the proverbial baton to fellow comedian and Saturday Night Live alum Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy Fallon’s goal was to appeal to a younger audience, and his ratings have proven that he is able to do just that. Fallon has made an effort to truly make the show his own. He moved The Tonight Show back to New York from Los Angeles and kept Lorne Michaels as his executive producer. With guests including First Lady Michelle Obama, Will Smith, U2, Kristen Wiig, and Will Ferrell, as well as musical guests such as Lady Gaga and Tim McGraw, Fallon has established his place as the host of The Tonight Show.
David Letterman’s recent announcement of his retirement in 2015 sent shock waves through the industry. Letterman has held his position as the host of CBS’s The Late Show for over 20 years, since its debut in 1993. With Letterman’s retirement, there have been many rumors that E! network’s talk show host Chelsea Handler will get her own show on CBS. Further reports state that Handler could be Letterman’s successor on The Late Show. Her talk show entitled Chelsea Lately has had much success. Handler’s contract with E! expires at the end of 2014, and she chose not to renew it. She reportedly is not interested in hosted a syndicated show, so CBS could give her the 12:30 am slot which is currently occupied by Craig Ferguson’s The Late Late Show. If Handler joins CBS, she would be the first woman to host a late night television show since Cynthia Garrett on Later on NBC from 2000-2001.
Seth Meyers also recently received his own late night talk show on NBC, replacing Jimmy Fallon after Fallon became the host of The Tonight Show. Late Night with Seth Meyers has proven its ability to bring in ratings. Premiering around the same time as The Tonight Show hosted by Fallon, Seth Meyers’s talk show outperformed Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from the previous year, and it also attracted more young adult views than The Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Late night talk shows and their networks are making an effort to appeal to a younger demographic in recent times, and the direction the networks have chosen to go in with their choices for talk show hosts has proven to be a successful strategy.