Jimmy Fallon Avoids Addressing Toxic Workplace Allegations in First Show Back
In the English language, there are four words that will give late-night audiences and cue card holders alike an equal sense of dread: “Jimmy Fallon is back.”
The late-night television ecosystem is quickly returning to normal with the conclusion of the WGA strike that first shut down every flagship late-night show back in May of this year. As TV writers return to work making publicist-selected interview questions feel organic, the cadre of lauded late-night hosts (Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert) who titled themselves the “Strike Force Five,” are now returning to their hosting gigs from cosplaying as podcasting professionals.
Towards the end of his brief tenure as a podcast comic, Fallon faced accusations of erratic and abusive behavior on the set of The Tonight Show from fourteen former staffers and two current ones in an unnerving Rolling Stone article that portrayed the workplace environment of his show as a hellishly hostile one that drove multiple staffers to suicidal ideation. Though Fallon spoke to his current staff in a closed meeting when the story first broke, he declined to publicly address the concerns raised in the report on his former podcast. Last night, in his first show back from hiatus, Fallon did not speak to any of the claims made in the Rolling Stone piece, instead choosing to dredge up some Lauren Boebert jokes that weren’t half as good as what Twitter had to say about her half a month ago.
Also included in last night’s episode of The Tonight Show was an interview with superstar singer-songwriter John Mayer, in which the Tonight Show production team aired a filmed segment based on Mayer’s sketch idea, “Crypto Bismol,” which revolved around a fake product designed to treat the nausea of investors who lost all their money on Bitcoin. Some jilted crypto investors might have found the short to be in poor taste, seeing as Fallon himself was among a list of A-listers hit with a class-action lawsuit over allegedly hawking NFTs and other blockchain investments shortly before the crypto market took a nosedive without disclosing their stakes in the projects.
Clearly, Fallon’s strategy for dealing with the fallout from the toxic workplace scandal (and, to a much lesser extent, his Bored Ape bulls–) is to remain silent on the issue until the news cycle moves onto something else. Though his tepid private apology to his staffers may have made the two current members of his team who spoke to Rolling Stone feel better about their alleged mistreatment, there’s no indication that he’s made attempts to reach out to the fourteen former employees who suffered under the anarchic atmosphere of his Tonight Show tenure.
Put simply, Fallon’s plan to move past the controversy is to ignore it until it goes away. Unfortunately for him, that strategy doesn’t exactly have a perfect track record – we tried ignoring Fallon when he first took over The Tonight Show, but, a decade later, he’s still somehow here.