This was how Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon apologized to staff at an all-hands Zoom meeting recently following an investigative report from Rolling Stone magazine that revealed that the host’s erratic and moody behavior created a toxic environment for many people who have worked there over the years.
Also on the Zoom call was Chris Miller, the current showrunner of the Tonight Show. Miller is the latest in a long line of showrunners that have come and gone on the show – the Tonight Show has gone through nine showrunners in nine years. The high turnover is among the reasons staff say they experience undue stress in the workplace.
Rolling Stone spoke to 14 former workers on the show, as well as two current staff members, all of whom accuse Fallon of creating a “glum” and toxic atmosphere behind the scenes. All of them declined to make their identities public for fear of retaliation. The individuals the magazine spoke to accuse Fallon of sudden outbursts against staff, as well as moody behavior and coming to work drunk. The staffers say that Fallon exhibits this behavior even during rehearsals with a live studio audience. Furthermore, the sources for the story say that many employees use empty guest dressing rooms as “crying rooms” where they would shut themselves in and cry or vent out their frustrations privately. A number also said that complaints were made to HR, but all were ignored.
A spokesperson for NBC, which airs the Tonight Show, only said that the company’s “top priority” was to provide “a respectful working environment.”
Fallon’s seeming fall from grace has some putting out a call for the return of comedian Conan O’Brien to the show, who had a brief stint on the Tonight Show before longtime host Jay Leno passed on the torch to Fallon. O’Brien now hosts a podcast after leaving television – his last show, “Conan” aired on TBS for 11 years before it ended in 2021.