Amid Jimmy Fallon’s stunning loss in the ratings, Page Six hears that there’s turmoil at the top of the “Tonight Show” with one exec suddenly and mysteriously out and another tearing into boss Lorne Michaels as they struggle to fix the faltering show.
Fallon’s “Tonight Show” has been steadily falling behind newcomer Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show,” and on Wednesday it was revealed that Colbert has topped Fallon for a full season for the first time.
As Fallon’s famously fluffy show began to fall behind Colbert’s politically charged material, Fallon tried to ape Colbert by bringing in “Today” show vet Jim Bell as showrunner to inject some topical heat to the show.
But we’re told that — as the ratings continue to suffer in spite of that gambit — an anguished Bell is sniping at executive producer and NBC royalty Michaels, who heads up “Saturday Night Live” and a glut of NBC comedies.
30 Rock insiders say Bell is frustrated because he thinks that Michaels — who championed Fallon’s rise from “SNL” to his stint at “Late Night” and finally to “Tonight” — is “stuck in the past,” while Bell believes Fallon has to reinvent himself to compete.
A spokesperson for NBC told us, “We are really pleased with the innovation of ‘The Puerto Rico Show’ and ‘The Larry Sanders Show,’ under Jim’s leadership. We are excited for some new elements coming this summer and fall. Jimmy continues to share signature segments like slow jam the news, most recently with Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.”
Meanwhile, we’re told there’s a snarl because of an odd arrangement at the top of the ladder.
While Michaels is technically senior as the executive producer, Bell runs the show day-to-day as “executive in charge.”
In his seven-month reign, Bell has brought about changes, producing a number of outside-the-studio specials, even taking Fallon to Puerto Rico for a “Hamilton” special with Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Meanwhile, we’ve learned that Fallon’s longtime producer Katie Hockmeyer has now left — shortly after her return from maternity leave.
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