Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon apologized to his staff Thursday after he was accused by 16 of the show’s current and former employees of creating a ‘toxic’ work environment.
The embattled host, who was seen later Thursday arriving at JFK Airport, got on a Zoom call with his staff Thursday evening to plead forgiveness.
‘I feel so bad I can’t even tell you,’ Fallon told staffers, according to Rolling Stone, who broke the story of Fallon’s ‘erratic’ behind-the-scenes behavior, citing two people in the meeting.
The staffers claim Fallon’s words ‘felt pretty earnest’ when he apologized.
‘It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad,’ Fallon is alleged to have said. ‘Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends… I feel so bad I can’t even tell you.’
‘I want the show to be fun, [it] should be inclusive to everybody,’ Fallon is said to have added. ‘It should be the best show.’
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon apologized to his staff Thursday after he was accused by 16 of the show’s current and former employees of creating a ‘ toxic’ work environment
Former and current employees say the star’s ‘hissy-fits’ forced them to sob in ‘crying rooms’, made their hair fall out and triggered suicidal thoughts.
They claim Fallon’s inconsistent behavior, which has included ‘outbursts’ toward workers, was the starting point for a ‘pretty glum atmosphere’.
While the talk-show host is known for his hilarious anecdotes on the screen with a range of games, challenges and trivia garnering millions of weekly views online, it’s claimed Fallon has unexpected mood swings.
‘It was like, if Jimmy is in a bad mood, everyone’s day is f**ked,’ one former employee told Rolling Stone.
‘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.’
It’s alleged his inconsistent and snappy attitude trickles down throughout the program’s hierarchy which has seen nine showrunners over nine years.
‘I just don’t think they’ve landed on a leader who can keep it together,’ one former staffer told Rolling Stone.
None of the nine showrunners opted to speak in a negative – or positive – light about the show.
The 48-year-old sported a casual look in jeans and a white t-shirt with a beige cardigan over the top
Fallon seen in London on September 6 just days before the allegations surfaced
A Rolling Stone investigation by Krystie Lee Yandoli revealed the claims against Fallon and The Tonight Show
The talk show host is known for his hilarious anecdotes on screen but behind the scenes, concerns have been raised over Fallon’s ‘erratic’ behavior at work
The publication approached more than 50 current and former Tonight Show employees for the story. While many praised Fallon for his ability to crack a joke, no one put their hand up to speak on the record or had any good things to say about the work environment. The 16 who did speak up, under the condition of anonymity worked in a range of different roles, from production crews to the writers’ room.
But a source close to the Tonight Show told DailyMail.com: ‘The things being reported in this article 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.
‘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.
‘This isn’t who Jimmy is and this isn’t in any way what the show is like today.’
Among the allegations, one former employee said the environment shifted during the transition from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to The Tonight Show.
‘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,’ one former employee said.
‘You have all these NBC pages in the building who are ready, willing, and waiting to take your job.’
Many of the staffers said they left the show due to mental health concerns, with seven saying their overall wellbeing was impacted by their alleged experiences.
Others said they were fired from the show, with guest rooms reportedly referred to as ‘crying rooms’ to let out their emotions when it all became too much.
‘Nobody told Jimmy, “No.” Everybody walked on eggshells, especially showrunners,’ another former employee claimed.
Fallon appears totally fascinated with guests who feature on the show (pictured: actress Keke Palmer)
‘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.’
Many of the staffers who spoke out have described living in fear while employed with the talk show, with some saying they had nightmares or anxiety related to their work.
A person says they were put on anti-anxiety medication for the first time after having an anxiety attack while working at the show.
Another says their hair thinned and nail beds weakened as a physical reaction to the stress, while someone else lost nearly 20 pounds and cried themselves to sleep every night.
‘I know other people who were in [my] department who also were unhappy with [mis]treatment but it was never a thing where any of us were empowered enough to say anything,’ the employee said.
‘It just always felt like, “You should be grateful that you have a job, and you should be grateful that you have this position at this show, at this network. Everyone wants to be in this spot. You have worked hard to get here — it shouldn’t be a thing where you’re being ungrateful.”‘
Four people claim they are in therapy as a result of their experiences, while three revealed they had suicidal thoughts.
‘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,’ one former employee described.
‘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?”‘
One former worker said the ordeal of working for the show is ‘a bummer’ because it was their ‘dream job’.
‘Writing for late night is a lot of people’s dream jobs, and they’re coming into this and it becomes a nightmare very quickly.
‘It’s sad that it’s like that, especially knowing that it doesn’t have to be that way.’
The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon is known for its popular segments and challenges
Concerns over Fallon’s behavior have been raised previously. In 2015, the New York Post published a story quoting sources who alleged NBC was worried his drinking had become ‘excessive’.
He refuted the claims, however, in an interview with the New York Times in 2017, saying: ‘I could never do a day-to-day job if I was drinking every night. That’s just kicking you when you’re down.’
Yet, two employees allege they saw him under the influence at work that same year. Another two workers believed they smelled alcohol on his breath when he entered an elevator with them during the day on separate occasions in 2019 and 2020.
Eight other employees claimed his energy and attitude could be attributed to whether he was hungover.
While The Tonight Show, which is produced by Universal Television, Broadway Video and Electric Hot Dog – Fallon’s production company, is currently on hold due to the writers’ strike, it was renewed by NBC until 2026.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, an NBC spokesperson said The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon is no different to anywhere else.
‘We are incredibly proud of The Tonight Show, and providing a respectful working environment is a top priority,’ the spokesperson said.
‘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.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to NBC and Fallon’s representatives for additional comment.