Rolling Stone: Fallon Staffers Live in Fear of 'Bad Jimmy Days'

Article alleges a 'toxic' environment at 'Tonight Show'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Rolling Stone Alleges 'Toxic' Environment on Fallon Show
Jimmy Fallon, in a file photo.   (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Rolling Stone magazine is out with a lengthy report that alleges a "toxic" environment on the set of the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. It starts with the host himself, according to the report, which quotes 14 former staffers and two current ones to that effect. On what are known as "bad Jimmy days," he might blow up at a staffer over the smallest of offenses or seem disoriented at rehearsals—two say Fallon was drunk at work, and another pair say they at least smelled alcohol on his breath in the elevator. Eight say his drinking from the night before played a big role in determining how the day would go. "When something was wrong, we all knew how to behave afterward, which was just sort of avoid eye contact and don't make another mistake," says one former staffer. The article also claims Fallon is known for making personal attacks in the guise of feedback.

In one incident mentioned in the story, Fallon berated the staffer holding cue cards during the taping of a sketch with Jerry Seinfeld. "It was very awkward, and Jerry [Seinfeld] was like, 'You should apologize to him,' almost trying to make it a joke," a former employee says. Fallon reportedly did so. "It was one of the strangest moments ever." Fallon didn't comment for the article, nor did any of his nine Tonight Show showrunners (in nine years). Krystie Lee Yandoli of RS reached out to at least 80 people, and while many praised Fallon's comedic gifts, "not a single one agreed to speak on the record or had positive things to say about working on The Tonight Show." NBC defended the show, "but, notably, did not mention Fallon himself." Read the full story, in which staffers say the atmosphere took a toll on their mental and physical well-being. (Ellen DeGeneres ran into similar criticism.)

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