Will Jimmy Fallon Inherit 'The Tonight Show' Someday?

January must have been quite a month for Jimmy Fallon. Eleven months ago, when his talk show debuted in Conan O'Brien's old time slot, the 36-year-old SNL alum couldn't possibly have foreseen the shake-ups ahead at his network. 

Now, Jay Leno is leaving primetime and returning to The Tonight Show, O'Brien has left NBC, and Fallon may be in line for an upgrade: according to some in the industry, Fallon is the new heir-apparent to Leno's throne (that is, if Leno ever truly lets it go -- which is difficult to imagine at the moment.)

In recent weeks, the host of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon managed to avoid taking sides in the Leno-Conan dispute. "It's kind of weird because these are two of my heroes and two of my friends," he said on his Jan. 10 show. "I feel like I met a great woman, got married, and now I'm finally getting to know my in-laws," he said. "And they are craaaaa-zy!"

But if Fallon's on track to be groomed for The Tonight Show, he faces many of the same hurdles that dogged O'Brien. "Jimmy has the same problem Conan does: they're innovative, edgy and they play to a younger crowd," said Janette Barber, executive producer of Rosie Radio on Sirius satellite radio. "If NBC wants less edgy for Tonight, then they have a problem."

Meanwhile, none of Fallon's edginess surfaced on last night's Jay Leno Show. Fallon appeared via satellite during "10@ 10" segment (the same segment in which Jimmy Kimmel "sucker-punched" Leno three weeks ago). Fallon dutifully answered Leno's benign questions with self-deprecating humor that steered clear of the historic dispute that has tarnished Leno's reputation. Only once did the grinning guest allude to the recent game of musical chairs in NBC's late-night lineup, when Leno asked whether Fallon had ever been fired.

"No. What, have you heard something?" asked Fallon. Polite laughter ensued. Hmmm. With a knack for safe softballs like that, maybe Fallon would fit in as a Tonight Show host, after all.

Plus: Conan O'Brien Says His Final Goodbye

Do you think Jimmy Fallon will be groomed to host The Tonight Show someday? Chime in below!

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