Jimmy Fallon: Got any plans in 2009?

FallonIs the Conan O’Brien succession plan the worst-kept secret in town? A knowledgeable source familiar with the negotiations recently told EW what many in town already believe: that SNL vet Jimmy Fallon is the guy who’ll replace Conan O’Brien when the latter takes over The Tonight Show in 2009. Several publications like Broadcasting & Cable have already reported it as a strong possibility, though NBC won’t confirm other than acknowledging that Fallon is at the top of its “short list” (the comedian already signed a development deal with the network earlier this year). Alrighty then! If there are any unanswered questions left when it comes to late night, it involves Jay Leno and whether he’ll take NBC up on its offer to stick around once O’Brien assumes his post. Speculation is rampant that Leno won’t settle for the occasional primetime peacock special; maybe he’ll bolt for another network like ABC and put Nightline out of business (or at least out of the 11:35 p.m. timeslot). One thing’s for sure: this inevitable game of musical chairs could turn out to be even juicier than the Leno-Letterman saga chronicled in Bill Carter’s 1996 tome The Late Shift. Stay tuned…

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