Jimmy Fallon Responded to Toxic Workplace Allegations on a Staff Zoom Mea Culpa

the tonight show starring jimmy fallon episode 1822 pictured host jimmy fallon during thank you notes on friday, march 24, 2023 photo by todd owyoungnbc via getty images
Jimmy Fallon "Embarassed" About Workplace ReportNBC - Getty Images

Jimmy Fallon is in hot water for allegedly fostering a hostile work environment at The Tonight Show. Yesterday, Rolling Stone released a scathing report after speaking with 16 employees (2 current and 14 former) about their experience working on the NBC's flagship late night show. Following the article's release, Fallon reportedly held a Zoom-meeting with the show’s staff and apologized.

According to CNN, Fallon told his employees that he did not mean to “create that type of atmosphere for the show” and that he was “embarrassed” by the allegations. “It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad, “ he said. “Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends…I feel so bad I can’t even tell you.”

Fallon began hosting The Tonight Show in 2014, following a five year stint as the host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Over the past decade The Tonight Show has become massively popular, with clips from the show consistently going viral. But behind the scenes, working on the show is less glamorous than it seems.

After interviewing staff, Rolling Stone learned about a shaky management system (there have been nine showrunners in nine years), and a pattern of mistreatment. Employees described frequent “outbursts” from Fallon, and feeling bullied by their managers. They also referred to dressing rooms as “crying rooms” and often joked about ending their lives due to stress and constant belittling.

One common theme amongst employees was that they didn’t feel comfortable expressing their grievances to HR. “It’s a bummer because it was my dream job,” a former staffer said. “Writing for late night is a lot of people’s dream jobs, and they’re coming into this and it becomes a nightmare very quickly. It’s sad that it’s like that, especially knowing that it doesn’t have to be that way.”

The Tonight Show is currently on hiatus due to the SAG-AFTRA strike. During the first three weeks Fallon and NBC paid their staff’s salaries, but now they’re all on an unpaid leave of absence. In the meantime, Fallon is working on a podcast with fellow late-night television hosts Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, and John Oliver. All proceeds from the show, called Strike Force Five, will go toward their staff until the strike ends.

During Fallon’s apology, he expressed hope for the future of The Tonight Show. “I want the show to be fun,” he said. [it] should be inclusive to everybody. It should be the best show.” According to a former employee, that change can only come from within. “I love 'The Tonight Show,' and I love comedy,” they told Rolling Stone. “I gave my heart and soul to that place. I want to see them succeed and do well, but for that to happen, there are major changes that need to take place, starting with Jimmy. They all need to dig their heads out of the sand and do something about the very obvious problems that we all know are happening.”

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