Following an investigation by Rolling Stone into the workplace environment at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the talk show host and showrunner Chris Miller addressed employees in a Zoom call on Thursday evening.
For a report published Thursday morning, Rolling Stone spoke with two current and 14 former staffers who said that Fallon’s erratic behavior — and the show’s ever-changing leadership teams — had fostered an unhealthy work environment. Some employees say their mental health was impacted by their alleged experiences and many employees say they made complaints to HR.
Two employees who were in the meeting say Fallon apologized and he said he did not intend to “create that type of atmosphere for the show.”
“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad,” the employees say Fallon said. “Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends… I feel so bad I can’t even tell you.”
According to the employees, who say the message from the talk show host “felt pretty earnest,” Fallon also acknowledged the amount of turnover The Tonight Show has had in regard to its showrunners. They say Fallon emphasized that current showrunner Chris Miller is “a great leader” and isn’t going anywhere.
“I want the show to be fun, [it] should be inclusive to everybody,” Fallon said, according to the employees. “It should be the best show.”
Representatives for Fallon and NBC did not immediately return requests for comment. A spokesperson for NBC defended the program in a statement, saying, “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.” (Representatives for Fallon did not comment on the record.)
Over the course of reporting this story, Rolling Stone contacted more than 80 Tonight Show employees, both past and present — including the program’s nine showrunners since 2014. While many of them praised Fallon’s immense talent and comedic gifts, not a single one agreed to speak on the record or had positive things to say about working on The Tonight Show.
One NBC employee who does not work for The Tonight Show responded to Rolling Stone’s request for an interview. They declined to speak on the phone, saying they’re unavailable until next week, but in their email they said, “I love what I do and have been so honored to work with Jimmy since Day 1 of SNL followed by The Tonight Show! The Tonight Show! What a joyful adventure!!”
After the publication of Rolling Stone’s story, an anonymous “current employee of the show” told People magazine that Fallon was “super communicative” and “a really, really positive guy.”
Miller, who did not respond to Rolling Stone’s requests for comment on the original story about the environment behind the scenes of The Tonight Show, also emailed employees on Thursday morning.
“I wanted to make you all aware of an online story that just hit on rollingstone.com that includes past allegations of inappropriate behavior at the show,” Miller wrote in the email.
“While I know the reporter reached out to many of you before the piece ran, 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. Still, it’s disappointing to see something published that does not capture the positive and inclusive environment I believe we have created together.”
In the email, Miller also encouraged employees to raise any concerns they might have with him, their managers, or HR.