“Tonight Show” staffers have accused Jimmy Fallon of showing “erratic” behavior in what they deemed a “toxic” work environment.
Two current and 14 former employees, ranging from production crew members to office staffers to show writers, dished on their alleged negative experiences working with the late-night host in a bombshell report published by Rolling Stone Thursday, in which they claimed there are “good Jimmy days” and “bad Jimmy days.”
“Nobody told Jimmy, ‘No.’ Everybody walked on eggshells, especially showrunners,” a former employee told the magazine. “You never knew which Jimmy we were going to get and when he was going to throw a hissy fit. Look how many showrunners went so quickly. We know they didn’t last long.”
However, a show source notes to Page Six that many of the accusations are coming from former staffers, telling us exclusively that the work environment has significantly shifted over time since new showrunner Chris Miller joined last May.
“He’s brought a renewed enthusiasm and positive energy to the show,” the source tells Page Six. “Chris prides himself on being available to the staff and a transparent leader.
“He’s exactly what the show needed.”
Another producer on the show tells Page Six that Fallon is extremely “engaged” with the staff and “the atmosphere is very different.”
“There’s a new wave that came in a year and a half ago and has just made everything change,” the producer tells us, explaining that a new head booker and new head writer were also hired.
The anonymous current employees and former staffers claimed to Rolling Stone that “The Tonight Show” has been a toxic workplace behind the scenes for years, from Fallon’s “erratic behavior” to the show’s revolving-door leadership teams. (There have been nine showrunners in the past nine years.)
Two employees told the publication that Fallon seemed drunk at work in 2017. Another pair of workers claimed to have smelled alcohol on the host’s breath in an elevator on separate occasions in 2019 and 2020.
Ex-staffers described the show as a tense and “pretty glum atmosphere” where some were bullied and belittled by bosses including Fallon.
The “Saturday Night Live” alum, 48, was also accused of having unexpected “outbursts,” which were allegedly reported to HR without any action being pursued.
A few of the former employees said the toxic work environment impacted their mental health and that it was routine for staffers to joke about “wanting to kill themselves.” They also reportedly referred to guests’ dressing rooms in the office as “crying rooms.”
Rolling Stone reported that four employees said they were in therapy and three others had experienced suicidal ideation because of their experience working on the show.
“Mentally, I was in the lowest place of my life. I didn’t want to live anymore. I thought about taking my own life all the time,” a former employee claimed. “I knew deep down I would never actually do it, but in my head, I’m like, ‘Why do I think about this all the time?’”
Some also felt a constant fear that they would lose work if they did not do a perfect job.
“The producers felt this pressure, and that translated down to all of their employees. People that worked under them then felt this pressure that if you made one mistake, you were gone and would be easily replaced,” another ex-staffer claimed. “You have all these NBC pages in the building who are ready, willing and waiting to take your job.”
Employees alleged that their workday depended on Fallon’s ever-changing mood.
“It was like, if Jimmy is in a bad mood, everyone’s day is f–ked,” an employee said. “People wouldn’t joke around in the office, and they wouldn’t stand around and talk to each other. It was very much like, focus on whatever it is that you have to do because Jimmy’s in a bad mood, and if he sees that, he might fly off.”
The former workers asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation. The magazine reported that many of the ex-employees either exited the show to protect their mental health or were fired.
Fallon has yet to publicly respond to the accusations, though NBC defended its late-night program without directly addressing the host himself.
“We are incredibly proud of ‘The Tonight Show,’ and providing a respectful working environment is a top priority,” a network spokesperson said in a statement. “As in any workplace, we have had employees raise issues; those have been investigated and action has been taken where appropriate. As is always the case, we encourage employees who feel they have experienced or observed behavior inconsistent with our policies to report their concerns so that we may address them accordingly.”
Fallon charmed the public when he began hosting NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” in 2009. Then in 2014, it was announced that he would replace Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.” The show debuted with an impressive 11.3 million viewers and skyrocketed to success from there.
Rumors have been swirling about Fallon’s problematic behavior for years. In 2016, Page Six reported that NBC staffers were concerned about his drinking habits and that he was told to cut back on booze.
However, he denied the claims the following year, telling the New York Times, “I could never do a day-to-day job if I was drinking every night. That’s just kicking you when you’re down.”