Earlier this week, Rolling Stone published a bombshell report that detailed the working conditions at The Tonight Show and painted a very unflattering picture of its host Jimmy Fallon, who staffers say has routine episodes of “outbursts and unexpected, inconsistent behavior.”
According to the report, multiple employees spoke about being belittled and intimidated by Fallon, whom the staff accepted as “good Jimmy days” and “bad Jimmy days.”
One employee says depending on Fallon’s mood, they felt like his notes and feedback could be passive-aggressive — personal insults as opposed to constructive criticism. They say he would write comments like, “Are you OK? Seriously, do you need help?”
Rolling Stone reviewed photos of the employees’ alleged notes from Fallon that read, “Ugh, lame. What is going on with you? You’ve outdone yourself.” The same employee says Fallon would also send combative emails, one of which was reviewed by Rolling Stone, to certain staffers if he was dissatisfied with their work.
Staffers also say that The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, which has been through nine showrunners in the nine years since it debuted, has been a toxic environment “for years.”
Now, in response to the report, Fallon reportedly held an emergency all-hands Zoom meeting to apologize to his staff.
“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad. Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends…I feel so bad I can’t even tell you,” Fallon reportedly said.
The Tonight Show employees who were on the call and spoke to Rolling Stone said that Fallon seemed “pretty earnest” and claimed that he did not intend to “create that type of atmosphere for the show.”
Fallon is the sixth host of The Tonight Show, having taken over for Jay Leno in 2014. In addition to Fallon and Leno Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, and Conan O’Brien have hosted the iconic late-night talk show.