“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon apologized to his crew on Thursday afternoon after a news article described his show’s set as a “toxic workplace.”
Mr Fallon, whose show has not aired new episodes in more than four months due to the writers’ strike, told staff in a virtual meeting: “It’s embarrassing and I feel so wrong”.
The article, published by Rolling Stone, said 14 former staff members and two current employees alleged Mr Fallon’s “erratic behaviour” had helped fuel an unhealthy work environment.
“If I ever mistreated someone or hurt you, that was not my goal,” he said at the meeting, according to a staff member present. “I want this show to be fun. It should be inclusive for everyone. It should be funny. It should be the best show, the best people. I just wanted to say that I miss you guys.
NBC released a statement Thursday saying, “We are incredibly proud of ‘The Tonight Show’ and providing a respectful work environment is a top priority. As in any workplace, employees have raised issues; these were investigated and action taken where appropriate.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for NBCUniversal said Mr Fallon and the series were not being investigated because the allegations in the article dated back several years and had been addressed by the company.
Rolling Stone reported that during a taping with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Mr Fallon berated a staff member holding a cue card. The article went on to report that Mr. Seinfeld forced Mr. Fallon to apologize to the employee and that other staff members called the moment “uncomfortable”.
Mr. Seinfeld sent a statement to Rolling Stone after the article was published in which he said: “This is so stupid. I remember that moment very well. I teased Jimmy about a mistake, and we all laughed amusingly at Jimmy’s rarity. It wasn’t uncomfortable at all. Jimmy and I still reminisce about it from time to time and laugh. Silly distortion of events.
Mr. Fallon took over as host of “The Tonight Show,” the famed NBC institution that’s been around since the 1950s, in 2014. His show immediately garnered big ratings, a trend that continued even after CBS installed Stephen Colbert as David Letterman’s replacement on “The Late Show” in September 2015.
Mr. Fallon’s light-hearted approach to the show – with an emphasis on song, dance and games – seemed to match the national mood.
But soon after Mr. Fallon ruffled the hair of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump during a 2016 interview, his show’s ratings began to plummet.
In early 2017, just as Mr. Trump took the reins of the White House, the viewership of Mr. Colbert’s “The Late Show” eclipsed “The Tonight Show,” as Mr. Colbert and many late hosts evenings were beginning to deliver sharp political monologues, a course that Mr. Fallon avoided. Although viewership for all late-night shows has dwindled in recent years, Mr. Colbert has continued to beat Mr. Fallon.
During the ratings slump, Mr. Fallon went through a number of showrunner changes.
Mr. Fallon, along with other late-night hosts including Mr. Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers and John Oliver, began airing a podcast together last week called “Strike Force Five.” Profits from the show are being donated to their unemployed staff members, as the writers’ strike kept their shows in the dark for 129 days and counting.
Chris Miller, who has been the showrunner of the “Tonight Show” since 2022, emailed staffers Thursday shortly after the Rolling Stone article was published.
“While I know the reporter contacted many of you prior to the publication of the article, I do not believe what is written reflects the overall culture of our amazing team that I am so lucky and proud to work with. every day,” he said. wrote. “The place described in the article is not the place I know. Still, it’s disappointing to see something released that doesn’t reflect the positive and inclusive environment I believe we’ve created together.