Gavin Purcell Named Interim ‘Tonight Show’ Showrunner

Gavin Purcell has been named interim showrunner on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, with Jim Bell departing. Purcell, formerly a writer and producer on the late-night show, recently signed a producing deal with Universal Television. NBC said his appointment “leans into the show’s digital and social strengths.”

Bell has spent 28 years at NBC. He was asked to come on board at The Tonight Show after executive producing the Winter Olympics in South Korea and the men’s World Cup in Russia. Last October, he became executive in charge of production and showrunner on the program, agreeing to a one-year stint.

“The past year with Jimmy and the terrific team at the show has been a blast, and I will always be grateful for this opportunity,” said Bell. “But after serious contemplation, I realized I did not want to extend my time at the show. Those thoughts are part of larger ones I have been having about my career, and what has emerged for me is a strong desire to delve into something new — to build on my experience in news, sports, and entertainment so I can broaden and deepen my leadership role in the content universe.

“Along with my Olympic colleagues, we have positioned NBC Sports for an incredible Summer Olympics next year, and so I believe the timing is perfect for me to forge a new path,” he continued. “I will always look back on my years at NBC as an extraordinary chapter in my life, and thank the many talented individuals who have joined me in truly meaningful work around the globe.”

Bell spent much of his career running Today, which he left in 2012

“Jim's imprint at The Tonight Show was substantial and will be long-lasting," said George Cheeks, vice chairman, NBCUniversal Content Studios. "With his decades of production expertise, Jim was able to elevate our live telecasts to new heights and took Tonight on the road and delivered shows that raised the bar. We wish him nothing but the best moving forward and thank him for his contributions."

Purcell was showrunner and executive producer on Hulu’s I Love You, America, with Sarah Silverman.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the L.A. Times and New York magazine.