While the 48-year-old Fallon has long been criticized for his seemingly phony on-camera persona, this new report details what he’s like behind the scenes at the long-running NBC late-night show and paints a picture of Fallon as an erratic, intimidating, and oft rude presence.
According to employees who spoke to Rolling Stone for the piece, the staff understands that there are “good Jimmy days” and “bad Jimmy days” when it comes to dealing with the face of the program.
According to two current and 14 former employees, The Tonight Show has been a toxic workplace for years — far outside the boundaries of what’s considered normal in the high-pressure world of late-night TV. They say the ugly environment behind the scenes starts at the top with Fallon’s erratic behavior and has trickled down to its ever-changing leadership teams — nine showrunners in the past nine years — who seemingly don’t know how to say no to Jimmy.
“Former employees describe The Tonight Show as a tense and ‘pretty glum atmosphere,’ with some alleging they were belittled and intimidated by their bosses, including Fallon himself. Employees describe being afraid of Fallon’s ‘outbursts’ and unexpected, inconsistent behavior.” [via Rolling Stone]
Staff members also claimed that their mental health was impacted by their employment at The Tonight Show and that employees would commonly make jokes about killing themselves and refer to the guests’ dressing rooms as “crying rooms”, as it’s where they would go to deal with their emotions.
Furthermore, none of the 30 current and former The Tonight Show staffers that were interviewed “agreed to speak on the record or had positive things to say” about their time on the show.
Additionally, none of the nine showrunners across the nine-year history of the program would give statements of support for Fallon, which Rolling Stone says is the opposite of what’s “common in the entertainment industry.”
I like the one Martin Short called Jimmy Fallon phony to his face. pic.twitter.com/v5qp2it8Xd
— M.A. Bergman (@John_LeTour) September 7, 2023
Fallon first took over as the host of The Tonight Show in 2014, succeeding Jay Leno. Prior to that, he hosted Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009 to 2014 and was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1998 to 2004. Fallon is the sixth host of The Tonight Show following Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, and Conan O’Brien.
While Fallon had previously been known for his charming, party-boy personality, recent years have seen his image devolve into that of a disingenuous corporate shill — characterized by his ceaseless and soulless giggling while on-air — which is an assessment that will surely only be further exasperated by this report.