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Jimmy Fallon apologized to the staff of the “Tonight Show” Thursday afternoon after a report by Rolling Stone magazine about his behavior on the venerable NBC late-night show over the years.
“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad. I’m sorry if I embarrassed you, your family and your friends,” Fallon said during a Zoom meeting with “Tonight” staff, Variety has learned. “I feel so bad I can’t even tell.” “I want this show to be fun, it has to be inclusive, it has to be funny, it has to be the best show, and it has to be the best people.”
Several former employees of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” Talk to Rolling Stone about what they described as a toxic work environment behind the scenes of the NBC late-night show. Some of those employees said their mental health deteriorated during their time on the show, as they claimed Fallon could lash out under pressure. Nine different directors have run “Tonight” since Fallon succeeded Jay Leno in 2014, and the tenure of that position is much lower – there’s much less turnover on Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” NBC’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on ABC. CBS’ “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” is said to have exacerbated the situation.
NBC declined to make executives available for comment.
Show insiders have pointed to an era of stability since Chris Miller was appointed showrunner in March of last year. Miller, who has worked with Drew Barrymore and her production company Flower Films for 23 years, says he has spent a significant amount of time managing the various backers behind his piece of entertainment. One of the people he had an affair with during this time was Nancy Juvonen, Fallon’s wife, and Barrymore’s longtime production partner. At the start of his tenure on the show, Miller attempted to focus the program on Fallon’s strengths such as impressions, graphics, and music, and steered the program away from heavy doses of political humor.
No one said to Jimmy: No. “Everyone walked on eggshells, especially the models,” a former employee told the magazine. “You never know which Jimmy we’re going to get and when he’s going to have a hissing fit. Look how many models have gone so fast. We know they didn’t last long.”
The show allegedly had a “crying room” on set where staff could decompress due to a hostile work environment.
“It was like Jimmy was in a bad mood and everyone was having a bad day,” said one former employee. “People can’t joke around in the office, they won’t stand up and talk to each other. It was a lot like, focusing on whatever you have to do because Jimmy is in a bad mood, and if he sees that, he might fly away.
One employee also alleged that Fallon appeared drunk at work during training and did not remember crossing out a joke in his notes. “He couldn’t remember crossing out that letter himself,” the employee said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, it is.'” [seems] drunk. He doesn’t know what to do. “This could be terrible – this could be the end of the show here.”
Fallon’s “Tonight Show” is currently on hold due to strikes by the WGA and SAG-AFTRA unions representing writers and actors.
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