Jimmy Fallon’s reported apology to staffers has fallen flat with a faction of social media users, following allegations he had fostered a “toxic” work environment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Fallon, who took over from Jay Leno as host of the late-night NBC show in 2014, was the subject of a Rolling Stone report published on Thursday, where several staffers stepped forward accusing the comedian of “erratic” behavior behind the scenes.
With the show having gone through nine showrunners over the past nine years, the staffers shared allegations of working in a “pretty glum atmosphere,” where they claim they faced intimidation from their bosses and Fallon himself.
Of those who spoke with Rolling Stone, seven people said that their mental health had been negatively impacted by the purported working atmosphere.
Several hours after the article was published, Rolling Stone further reported that Fallon and The Tonight Show showrunner Chris Miller spoke with employees via a Zoom call on Thursday evening.
Citing two employees who were present at the meeting, the publication reported that Fallon apologized to the team, while also stating that he did not intend to “create that type of atmosphere for the show.”
“It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad,” the employees quoted Fallon as saying. “Sorry if I embarrassed you and your family and friends… I feel so bad I can’t even tell you.”
The unnamed employees further said the TV personality told them: “I want the show to be fun, [it] should be inclusive to everybody. It should be the best show.”
Another source who was on the call spoke with Deadline, telling the outlet that Fallon described the Tonight Show staff as “the best of the best.” Fallon reportedly added: “There are things I’ve done in the past that are embarrassing but I never mistreated anybody.”
While employees told Rolling Stone that Fallon’s apology felt “pretty earnest,” the comedian may have some work to do in the court of public opinion. When news of the meeting was shared on X, formerly Twitter, the comments were met with a backlash.
“Jimmy apologizes and then says he never mistreated anyone. That is a non apology and is disappointing,” said one detractor.
“He’s not sorry!” another X user opined of Fallon. “Only [because] he got called out! Apologizing isn’t all there is to it, it’s about translating that into the work space for staffers to feel safe and be happy.”
“Jimmy Fallon’s apology sounds like it was spoken by a toddler—’It’s embarrassing and I feel so bad. I want this show to be fun,'” commented another.
“Only because you got called out, I’m sure. Treat people well and it would never have happened,” another unconvinced member of the public added.
While there was a wave of criticism directed at Fallon online, a number of fans also spoke out in support of the Saturday Night Live alum.
“He did the right thing though, and that’s the kind of person he is,” one supporter wrote of Fallon.
“We know you’re better than this, Jimmy,” said another, alongside a handshake emoji.
“Well that’s a start in the right direction… at least he acknowledged,” another commented.
While Rolling Stone‘s initial article on the Fallon allegations described the comedian as snapping at and belittling staffers, another employee described a completely different working environment in an interview with People.
The unnamed staffer described Fallon as “a really, really positive guy” who is “super communicative” with those who work for him. The employee, who said they have worked on the show for approximately one year, told People it was “disheartening” to see “these old accusations being brought up again.”
Rolling Stone stated that more than 50 of The Tonight Show‘s current and former employees had been contacted during reporting for the article. The publication added that an additional 30 current and former staffers were reached out to after representatives of Fallon and NBC had been contacted.
Per Rolling Stone, all showrunners since 2014 refused to comment on the article—even to share words of support.
Without addressing Fallon directly, a spokesperson for NBC defended The Tonight Show, telling Rolling Stone: “We are incredibly proud of The Tonight Show, and providing a respectful working environment is a top priority.
“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.”
Newsweek reached out to representatives of Fallon and NBC via email for comment.