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Former Today executive producer and current NBC Olympics executive Jim Bell has been named executive in charge and showrunner of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Bell will start his new job immediately. His name surfaced earlier in the week in connection with The Tonight Show when producer Mike DiCenzo exited the show.
DiCenzo was one of three producers, along with Gerard Bradford and Katie Hockmeyer, who oversaw the show in the wake of showrunner Josh Lieb’s departure in 2016. Bradford and Hockmeyer will remain in their roles as the lead creative voice and the head of day-to-day production, respectively.
Bell will also retain his position as president, NBC Olympics Production and Programming, while working on The Tonight Show. During Olympics periods he will step back some from the day-to-day on Fallon’s show.
Bell was executive producer of Today from 2005-2012 and created the show’s fourth hour. He was in charge during the ouster of Ann Curry as co-host in summer 2012 and the end of Today‘s long ratings dominance over ABC’s Good Morning America.
Bell moved from Today to become executive producer of NBC’s Olympics coverage starting with the 2014 Winter Games and was named to his current NBC Olympics post in 2017 (he has worked on every Olympics since 1992). He also was named executive producer for Telemundo’s World Cup coverage in 2017.
In the past couple of years, The Tonight Show has lost the ratings dominance it once enjoyed. Over the first three weeks of the season, it has tied with CBS’ Late Show With Stephen Colbert among adults 18-49 — both shows average a 0.5 rating — but trails Late Show by a good margin in viewers (3.48 million to 2.31 million).
The Tonight Show led the 2017-18 season by a few hundredths of a point in the demo, down from a 0.23-point margin for 2016-17.
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