- (Photo: REUTERS / Jason Reed)
Jay Leno has been named in rumors that suggest the television icon may be retiring soon.
While there is no expiration date on Leno's "The Tonight Show" on NBC, that could change after this year.
NBC intends to change its evening lineup in 2013-14, begging rumors that Leno is leaving his long-running late show and will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon, reported The Hollywood Reporter.
Fallon and his "Late Night" show is expected to assume the coveted 11:35 p.m. time slot.
Leno has met stiff competition this year, and NBC is worried that rival late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will steal young viewers from the network, according to The Atlantic Wire. Consequently, the network is reportedly contemplating replacing Leno with Fallon in order to stay competitive with Kimmel.
"The more time Jimmy Kimmel is in that slot, the more the young audiences goes that way, the harder is is for Jimmy [Fallon] to keep that audience…" said a source close to the situation, according to Atlantic Wire.
Kimmel and Leno are typically "neck-and-neck" in ratings on any given night, according to the insider.
Meanwhile, Leno is signed to a contract through 2014, but rumors about his retirement have not been confirmed.
"We do not speculate on rumor," stated Leno's rep, according to THR.
Another rival to Leno, David Letterman, may also be retiring shortly as his contract with CBS also expires in 2014, the celebrity news site reported.
Leno has faced criticism in recent months, including Kimmel declaring the 62-year-old comedian had "sold out."
"As a comedian, you can't not have disdain for what he's done," said Kimmel speaking to Rolling Stone magazine about Leno deciding to stay with NBC instead of pursuing other interests. "He totally sold out."
"[Leno] was a master chef who opened a Burger King," added Kimmel.