Jimmy Fallon in for Conan on 'Late Night'

Will take over hosting duties next year

NEW YORK -- One of the worst-kept secrets in TV was announced Monday: Jimmy Fallon will take over the hosting duties of "Late Night" when Conan O'Brien leaves for "Tonight."

"He is a handpicked talent, part of the NBC family already," NBC entertainment chief Ben Silverman said Monday afternoon in a news conference at the Top of the Rock above NBC's 30 Rockefeller Center headquarters.

Fallon will take over "Late Night" in 2009, though neither he nor producing partner Lorne Michaels committed to a date. It will remain in New York City, and Michaels said there would be further announcements about casting down the road. It will also air five nights a week. Michael said they were talking to one executive producer candidate in particular but he declined to discuss who.

"It's a comedian's dream to get his job, to work with writers and try to be funny every night," Fallon said. Fallon said he wasn't kidding himself, though: He knows it's going to be hard work, every night, and that sometimes jokes will fall flat. His wife also has no illusions.

"She left me a note this morning saying, 'Nice knowing you,' " he said.

He declined to discuss how long his contract would be -- he said he had the same contract as NBC weather forecaster Willard Scott, "150 years" -- and deflected a question in how much he is being paid.

"I keep asking Lorne," he said. "He keeps telling me not to worry about it. ... I just want to live comfortably ... in Dubai."

No one at NBC was willing to say when the transition would occur, which also means the departure of "Tonight" by Jay Leno. Leno didn't attend the news conference, though execs were asked about the timing.

"We have no idea," Silverman said.

"Everybody wants Jay Leno to stay part of the NBC family," Michaels said by way of explaining why there hasn't been a solid date.