The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon reportedly apologized to his staffers on a Zoom call following a scathing story by Rolling Stone that alleged his “erratic behavior” led to a “toxic workplace.”
Within hours of a bombshell report that alleged the Tonight Show was a “toxic workplace,” Jimmy Fallon and showrunner Chris Miller hopped onto a Zoom call with the staff where Fallon apologized, while Jerry Seinfeld called one reported incident he was involved in an “idiotic twisting of events.”
The original story was published earlier in the day on Thursday by Rolling Stone and it featured 14 former and two current unnamed staffers at the NBC late-night staple who claimed the host’s “erratic behavior” and lashing out led to a negative experience behind the scenes.
“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad,” Fallon said on the Zoom call Thursday afternoon, per Rolling Stone. “Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends.”
“I never set out to create that type of atmosphere at the show. I think sometimes I’m working with the best of the best, you guys are the top of the game,” Fallon reportedly continued. “I want this show to be fun, it should be inclusive for everybody, it should be funny, it should be the best show, the best people.”
According to staffers on the call who spoke with RS, Fallon “felt pretty earnest” in his apology and subsequent comments.
In the original exposé, staffers said they’d been made to feel “belittled and intimidated” by their superiors at work, including Fallon. They described Fallon’s behavior as “erratic” and “inconsistent,” saying he was prone to “outbursts.”
The report also cited the seeming revolving door of showrunners the show has experienced, with nine showrunners coming and going in as many years.
Fallon addressed this as well on the Zoom call, saying that Miller is a “great leader” and is here to stay. Miller joined the show in March 2022, with his presence suggesting an important sense of stability for the show.
Miller reportedly also emailed the staff separately from the Zoom call to “address past allegations of inappropriate behavior at the show.” He wrote, per RS, “I don’t believe what’s written is reflective of the overall culture of our extraordinary team that I’m so lucky and proud to work with every day. The place described in the article is not the place I know.”
An inside source for Daily Mail echoed Miller’s sentiment, emphasizing that the allegations levied in the original RS story “happened years ago and just aren’t reflective of the atmosphere today.”
“Nobody is denying that things happened in the past, but any previous issues have been dealt with, and everyone has moved on since then,” the report continued. “A lot of these are old anecdotes that have already been reported, and it’s unclear to everyone why they’re being brought up again years later.”
“So many current staff members have positive things to say about the show, but they aren’t being given a chance,” the source added. “This isn’t who Jimmy is, and this isn’t in any way what the show is like today.”
Another insider told the New York Post that Miller has brought “a renewed enthusiasm and positive energy to the show,” praising him for being “available to the staff and a transparent leader. He’s exactly what the show needed.”
The place described in that original article reportedly included “crying rooms” for staff to utilize to decompress after one of Fallon’s purported “hissy fits” or outbursts.
Staffers argued it led to an overall “pretty glum atmosphere” and said their mental health suffered. According to the report, four of them are currently in therapy as a result of their time with the show, while three said they had suicidal ideation.
“Nobody told Jimmy, ‘No.’ Everybody walked on eggshells, especially showrunners,” one staffer said in that story. “You never knew which Jimmy we were going to get.”
One story offered a specific detail, saying that Jerry Seinfeld witnessed Fallon scolding a cue card handler, with the comedian telling Fallon to apologize, which he ultimately did. Staffers called it “uncomfortable,” but Seinfeld is calling it an “idiotic twisting of events.”
“This is so stupid. I remember this moment quite well,” Seinfeld told RS in a comment submitted after they published their initial story, per The Daily Mail. “I teased Jimmy about a flub, and we all had a fun laugh about how rarely Jimmy is thrown off. It was not uncomfortable at all. Jimmy and I still occasionally recall it and laugh.”
That article also claimed that many employees voiced their concerns to HR but the problems persisted. An NBC spokesperson told RS that providing a “respectful working environment is a top priority” for the network.
“As in any workplace, we have had employees raise issues; those have been investigated, and action has been taken where appropriate,” the network spokesperson said. “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.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.