Jimmy Fallon ready to take the reigns
The television world is abuzz as Jimmy Fallon prepares to take over the legendary Tonight Show.
The former Saturday Night Live and Late Night star will be the sixth host in the history of the franchise. Fallon has been ratings gold for NBC during his tenure on Late Night, and an all-around critical success.
The show outperformed its main rival CBS’ The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and often produced higher ratings than The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Leno’s return to The Tonight Show in 2010 was marred by controversy. Conan O’Brien became Leno’s first successor in 2009, and held hosting duties till the following year when network politics ousted O’Brien from the show. NBC executives wanted to put Leno’s new self-titled talk show at the 11:35 p.m. timeslot, and push back The Tonight Show with O’Brien to 12:30 a.m.
O’Brien refused to adhere to NBC’s proposed plans, and was later bought out of his contract by the network. The publicity from the spat did not equate to a long-term ratings boost for Leno. His 2010-2014 ratings were down compared to his original run.
Like the original intention behind bringing O’Brien to The Tonight Show, NBC hopes Fallon’s young audience will follow the host to his new gig. The social media-savvy Fallon boosted the ratings and cult fan base of Late Night though the success of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube video views.
Fallon has brought himself into a new level of stardom upon hosting Late Night. Initial reviews for the show were mixed, and critics complained of Fallon’s awkwardness. Through the implementation of social media and his bits going viral on YouTube, Fallon earned success and acclaim for his new age, comedic tactics.
The Tonight Show will relocate back to Fallon’s home of New York City for the first time since 1972. Studio 6B, where Fallon hosted Late Night, will also be where The Tonight Show is taped. The move will make The Tonight Show more than just a ratings competitor to its long-time rival, The Late Show with David Letterman, but now competing for a live studio audience.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, NBC dumped $5 million into renovating Fallon’s current studio, Studio 6B. Despite the meager budget, Fallon and executive producer Lorne Michaels are said to be fine with the amount allotted.
Studio 6B has its own bit of legacy. It is where Jack Paar hosted The Tonight Show from 1957 to 1962. Johnny Carson also hosted the show for 10 years in Studio 6B before moving the show to Southern California in 1972.
Fallon’s house band and popular hip-hop group, The Roots, will be making the transition to The Tonight Show as well. The Roots were a valuable asset to Late Night.
President Barack Obama’s appearance last April featured him “slow jam” the news along to The Roots’ R&B beats. The bit garnered 6 million views on YouTube.
Will Smith, Jerry Seinfeld, Bradley Cooper and First Lady Michelle Obama will be among some of Fallon’s guests during Fallon’s first week of The Tonight Show. Also, U2, Tim McGraw, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and Justin Timberlake will comprise the list of his first musical guests.
The debut edition of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon will air at a special time following The Olympics on Monday at midnight. The show will go back to its regular timeslot of 11:35 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21.
The preemption may hurt Fallon’s initial ratings, but it has not derailed Fallon or NBC from bringing in some of entertainment’s heaviest hitters.