Jimmy Fallon might follow in the hopeful-turned-doomed footsteps of Conan O'Brien back in 2010 by replacing Jay Leno on the Tonight Show.

Whether NBC's lucky new late night talk show host will be Fallon or some other comedian, it's looking like someone will have to step up. NBC is planning to announce Leno's retirement as early as this May to make the transition in time for the 2014 television season, according to a report by The Hollywood Reporter. NBC, however, denies any such action, saying, "We do not speculate on rumor."

The assumption is that NBC wants to place Fallon firmly into the coveted 11:35 p.m. time slot, where he can win back some of the younger audience that Leno currently loses to Jimmy Kimmel Live, the 11:35 competing show on ABC. Doing this sooner rather than later would also pre-empt any fresh new competition CBS has in mind for when David Letterman chooses to leave.

"Kimmel has done extremely well," said one network veteran familiar with the dynamics of the late night wars. "Jay wins overall, but on any given night, it's neck-and-neck in 18-49. I understand where they might have fear and also feel that they own the solution [in Fallon]."

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