Behind the scenes of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, a recent exposé has shed light on a series of concerning issues, indicating a potentially toxic work environment.
These concerns encompass allegations of erratic conduct by Fallon himself, potential instances of alcohol misuse while on set, and numerous former employees asserting that their time working on the NBC late-night talk show had negative effects on their mental well-being.
According to Rolling Stone, the report drew its conclusions from accounts provided by “two current and 14 former employees.” In a specific incident recounted by an anonymous ex-employee, there was a notable instance in 2017 where Fallon’s behavior raised concerns of potential intoxication. During this incident, Fallon appeared to be inebriated when he crossed out a joke on a piece of paper he was holding and then appeared confused by his own alteration after a brief interaction with the audience. The ex-employee described the situation, stating, “He couldn’t remember he had just crossed it out himself… I was like, ‘Oh, my God, he [seems] drunk. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. This could be awful — this could be the end of the show right here.”
It became a recurring theme behind the scenes for Fallon to switch between what employees referred to as “good Jimmy days” and “bad Jimmy days.” On some occasions, he would exhibit the charming and witty persona viewers see on television, while on other occasions, he would allegedly berate a staff member in front of their colleagues. Employees also mentioned that they often suspected Fallon of being hungover or smelling of alcohol on certain occasions in the elevator.
In one instance, even Jerry Seinfeld reportedly witnessed Fallon chastising a staff member responsible for cue cards. Seinfeld is said to have advised Fallon to apologize to the staff member, according to an account from a former employee.
The report also highlights the continual turnover of leadership roles behind the scenes of The Tonight Show. Over the span of nine years, the series reportedly had nine different showrunners. This constant changing of leadership was described as a factor contributing to the persistent toxic workplace environment, which was allowed to persist. Specifically, former employees called out the ex-co-showrunners Jamie Granet-Bederman and Nedaa Sweiss, who were in charge from 2020 to spring 2022, for engaging in bullying behaviors.
It’s worth noting that reports and rumors about Jimmy Fallon’s alleged issues with alcohol use have surfaced intermittently over the years. However, in the past, Fallon has denied a report suggesting that NBC executives were concerned about his drinking habits.
Currently, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is on hold, as are many other major talk shows, due to the Writers Guild of America strike. In response, Fallon is co-hosting a limited podcast series called “Strike Force Five,” which features discussions with other late-night heavyweights such as Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver.