With Jimmy Fallon, NBC has gone in a new direction for the next host of Late Night it has picked somebody people have heard of.
When Conan O'Brien got the gig in 1993, NOBODY had heard of him. While it remains to be seen how Fallon will do as a late-night talk show host, he is well known to younger viewers after eight years on Saturday Night Live and a few movies (most notably Fever Pitch).
And at 33, Fallon is almost a dozen years younger than O'Brien.
The plan remains for O'Brien to take over Tonight from Jay Leno in 2009. Even if Leno ends up staying, O'Brien will still leave Late Night, no doubt for another network.
For now, NBC is sticking to its plan despite Leno's continued ratings success. No doubt the reported $40 million penalty it would have to pay O'Brien has something to do with that.
But Fallon will get Late Night one way or the other.