Jimmy Fallon will be in O'Brien's chair

Inks deal with NBC for 'Late Night'

UPDATED 6:16 p.m PT April 24, 2008

After months of speculation, Jimmy Fallon has sealed a deal to succeed "Late Night" host Conan O'Brien on NBC in 2009, sources said.

O'Brien, whose show airs at 12:35 a.m., is moving into the 11:35 p.m. slot next year after "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno's retirement, which was announced in 2004.

NBC is expected to make the announcement May 12 during its upfront event in New York.

The deal gives Fallon and "Late Night" executive producer Lorne Michaels enough time to assemble a team and prepare for Fallon's takeover after O'Brien's departure, expected in January.

It is not clear whether "Late Night" with Fallon will stay at Studio 6A at New York's 30 Rock, but it is probable as O'Brien will be moving to the new "Tonight Show" home at Universal Studios' Stage One.

NBC declined comment Thursday.

Fallon's new gig as "Late Night" host stems from a development deal he inked with NBC in early 2007.

The move further cements NBC's late-night transition that also is making Leno a highly sought-after free agent, with ABC and Fox reportedly already circling the top-rated late-night host. Meanwhile, NBC Universal is trying to keep him in the company fold with a new show.

For the second time, "Saturday Night Live" chief Michaels -- whose company Broadway Video co-produces "Late Night" with Universal Media Studios -- has gone with an "SNL" alum to front the late-night talker. In 1993, Michaels tapped former "SNL" writer O'Brien as the inaugural host.

Fallon has more onscreen experience, having co-starred on "SNL" and co-hosted its "Weekend Update" segment. He also toplined several features, including the comedies "Fever Pitch" and "Taxi."

Additionally, Fallon, repped by CAA and Management 360, served as a guest host for CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" in 2003.