On Thursday’s episode of Jake Tapper‘s new CNN show The Lead, ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel weighs in on the big late night news brewing over at NBC. In an excerpt released ahead of this afternoon’s interview, Kimmel half-jokes that he hopes he’s the reason NBC is speeding up Jay Leno‘s departure and bringing in Jimmy Fallon to host the Tonight Show at 11:30pm.

Asked by Tapper if NBC’s decision is a “direct response” to his move to the 11:30pm time slot on ABC, Kimmel responded, “God, I hope so,” before breaking into a delighted laugh. He then related the new move by NBC to their attempt to bring in Conan O’Brien to replace Leno back in 2009. “Obviously NBC is looking to move on, because they did it once already.”

Of his potential new head-to-head rival, Kimmel said, “It makes perfect sense. Jimmy Fallon is doing a great job and he’s very popular. So eventually it’s going to happen one way or the other.”

Kimmel’s overall ratings have come down a bit after his strong debut in early January, but he remains very competitive in the coveted 18-49 demo, a group that he himself will still reside in for a few more years, while Leno and David Letterman are each in their 60′s. Fallon could still be shy of 40 when he moves into the Tonight Show gig, offering Kimmel some younger competition that he has rarely seen during his now decade-plus late night career.

(Source: CNN and Mediaite.com)

Jimmy Kimmel Mocks Jay Leno

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