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The Latest Talk Show Host to Get Slammed by Multiple Employees for a Toxic Work Environment: Jimmy Fallon

You think you know a guy. 

Jimmy Fallon might be that talk show host who's known for this hysterical Covid variant booster song, cracking up in the middle of his own jokes and sketches (which was once upon a time known as "Harvey Kormaning a bit," but now is completely owned by him), and his generally careful, inoffensive, edgeless, middle of the road brand of safe humor and celebrity worship. 

But if we've learned anything from the insider reports about Ellen Degeneres and James Corden, it's always the seemingly nice, musically inclined ones that are actually monsters behind the curtain and when the cameras are off. Allegedly. 

Source - According to two current and 14 former employees, The Tonight Show has been a toxic workplace for years — far outside the boundaries of what’s considered normal in the high-pressure world of late-night TV. They say the ugly environment behind the scenes starts at the top with Fallon’s erratic behavior, and has trickled down to its ever-changing leadership teams — nine showrunners in the past nine years — who seemingly don’t know how to say no to Jimmy. Former employees describe The Tonight Show as a tense and “pretty glum atmosphere,” with some alleging they were belittled and intimidated by their bosses, including Fallon himself. ...

Seven former employees say their mental health was impacted by their alleged experiences working at The Tonight Show. These staffers say it was commonplace to hear people joking about “wanting to kill themselves,” and that they would refer to guests’ dressing rooms in the office as “crying rooms” because that’s where they would go to let out their emotions when they were upset with their alleged mistreatment. 

 The former staffers who spoke to Rolling Stone requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation. They worked in a range of positions on the show, from production crew members to office staffers and in the show’s writers’ room. ...

Rolling Stone contacted more than 50 Tonight Show employees, past and present, during the reporting for this story. ... [N]ot a single one agreed to speak on the record or had  positive things to say about working on The Tonight Show. ...

 ACCORDING TO MOST employees who spoke to Rolling Stone, it’s common knowledge behind the scenes that Fallon’s temperament, mood, and treatment of staffers is erratic. These employees say they’ve witnessed Fallon snap at crew members, express irritation over the smallest of things, and berate and belittle staffers out of frustration. Three former employees say that he berated them in front of other colleagues and crew members. ...

One employee says depending on Fallon’s mood, they felt like his notes and feedback could be passive-aggressive — personal insults as opposed to constructive criticism. They say he would write comments like, “Are you OK? Seriously, do you need help?” Rolling Stone reviewed photos of the employees’ alleged notes from Fallon that read, “Ugh, lame. What is going on with you? You’ve outdone yourself.” ...

Two employees remember witnessing Fallon scold the crew member who was in charge of his cue cards in the middle of a taping with comedian Jerry Seinfeld. They say it was an uncomfortable moment. Seinfeld told Fallon to apologize to the cue-card production member, which he then allegedly did. The employees say this incident, which felt awkward to watch, did not make it to the version of the show that appeared on television.      

Let me just take that last part first, because I think it's indicative of a much larger problem. You know that philosophy that says you can tell everything about a person by how they treat, I hate the expression "the little people" so let's go with "entry level workers"? That goes triple when the person is so brazenly dismissive that they'll treat people like garbage in front of somebody else. And quintuple when that somebody else is Jerry Seinfeld. To the point Seinfeld needed to intervene and make Fallon apologize. He has not only been a Tonight Show staple since Johnny Carson was still hosting, he reinvented the sitcom. And made more money of his residuals during the time it took him to admonish Fallon than Fallon will made in the 2010s. You don't embarrass Jerry Seinfeld; he embarrasses you, Jerk Store

As far as the rest of it? This reporting may be many things, but shocking is not one of them. Well researched. In depth. Dramatic. A little catty and backstabby perhaps. But not the least bit surprising. One happy, silly, convivial, musically-oriented talk show host turning out to be a closeted sadistic lizard person is a surprise. Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend. 

I wish I could take credit for this observation but it belongs entirely to Adam Carolla, who has pointed out that the people with their names on TV shows and are most associated for doing happy dances during the opening credits are Ellen and Bill Cosby. One got run off the air in shame for treating her staff like serfs. The other is a convicted sexual assaulter. Since he said it, we added Corden. And now Fallon. 

The bottom line here is to beware always of the "nice" ones. Especially the ones who come off as unnaturally nice. Don't get taken in by them. When something or someone is too good to be true, it's always because they're not. All any of us should want in an employer is to know where we stand. So if possible, work for someone who gives it to you straight and isn't a fucking phony.