Former and current employees at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon have made claims about experiencing a toxic environment while working on the set.
In a new report by Rolling Stone, 14 ex-staff members and two current employees have shared accounts of their time working on the NBC late-night programme.
The investigation, published on Thursday (7 September), claims that employees were in a “constant state of fear” due to the combination of a chaotic staff atmosphere and the allegedly unpredictable temperament of Fallon, 48.
The Independent has reached out to Fallon’s representatives for comment.
Formerly a comedian and Saturday Night Live cast member, Fallon has spearheaded the talk show since 2014. The Tonight Show is known to many for its high-profile celebrity guests, which have included the likes of Ariana Grande, Justin Timberlake and the then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, as well as its light-hearted games and musical interludes.
Seven former employees have stated that their mental health was impacted by their alleged experiences while working on the programme.
Some ex-staffers quoted in the article claimed that they’ve suffered from nightmares, anxiety and, in three cases, suicidal ideations as a result of the host’s alleged “erratic” behaviour, and the high turnover of senior members of production staff.
In the last nine years, the show has introduced a new showrunner each year.
According to several people speaking to the publication, it is “common knowledge” that “Fallon’s temperament, mood, and treatment of staffers is erratic”.
“Nobody told Jimmy, ‘No.’ Everybody walked on eggshells, especially showrunners,” a former employee claimed.
“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.”
Another employee spoke about the physical effects of their declining mental health following experiences on the show, such as thinning hair and weakened nail beds.
The report adds: “Four other employees say they are in therapy because of their experiences.”
It is also alleged that people could often be heard joking about “wanting to kill themselves”.
Employees also noted their issues with the feedback they’d receive from Fallon, with one saying that the host’s remarks were “passive-aggressive” and unnecessarily personal.
The publication viewed photos of the employees’ alleged notes from Fallon that read, “Ugh, lame. What is going on with you? You’ve outdone yourself.”
Other revelations in the report included the claim that employees called the guests’ dressing areas “crying rooms”, as it is where they’d go to calm their emotions. As well as this, some claimed that Fallon’s temperament affected the rest of the staff.
“It was like, if Jimmy is in a bad mood, everyone’s day is f***ed,” one former employee told the entertainment magazine.
“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.”
A spokesperson for NBC defended the programme in a statement made to Rolling Stone.
“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 behaviour inconsistent with our policies to report their concerns so that we may address them accordingly.”