Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon: The bigger stars are not necessarily the best talkers

With 41 days until he debuts his Late Night program on NBC, Jimmy Fallon is getting serious about his transformation into talk show host. The latest webisode on his show’s site finds Fallon asking Jay Leno for advice following his appearance on Monday’s Tonight Show. Fallon asks Leno if there’s anything he knows now that he wishes he knew when he first started. In case you can’t decipher Leno’s surprisingly interesting response at the end of the clip below — Leno didn’t warn Fallon that it’s best not to do an interview while a band is playing? — here’s my best attempt at a transcript: "I mean, you learn a lot of stuff. You learn that the bigger stars are not necessarily the best talkers. You know, character actors that have stories [are just as good/better]….Actually, one thing you’ll find out is there’s only about 18 people in the world that mean anything ratings-wise….Well, I mean obviously, if you’ve got, you know, Drew Barrymore or Tom Cruise, these people also make a difference. But a lot of times, people you think will be huge, not necessarily huge, so it’s up to you to try and keep it funny….Big stars look good for name value, but they don’t necessarily make the show more interesting. The show is about you more than it is about [them]. Like we’re primarily a comedy show that has guests. In the old days, we used to be a talk show….The monologue in the old days used to be three or four minutes, now it’s 12 or 13, and then you have a comedy piece, and then you have a headline, and then you have a guest….You gotta keep it moving."

I’d love to hear which stars are expected to be ratings gets — and aren’t. Any guesses?

How are you feeling about Fallon’s March 2 debut now, knowing the show is more about him than those he’ll interview?

More on Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno:
Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night video blog: Stand still, will ya?
Jimmy Fallon to take over for Conan O’Brien in ’09
Margeaux’s Mix: The Roots join Late Night?
Jay Leno to prime time: Why NBC is doing it


Comments (17 total) Add your comment
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  • Max

    Hey Jay, it helps when someone good is interviewing them

  • Max

    Jay Leno is a hack. No Talent Hack!

  • shar

    Some big stars should never be allowed on talk shows because they cannot put a complete sentence together. A prime eg. Al Pacino, absolutely so boring. Others just plain idiots. One of the best Dustin Hoffmann…

  • chris

    the best talk show moments are between letterman and richard simmons

  • Paola

    Well, Leno is right. Some big stars are a disappointment, and so are some great writers when they talk.
    But a few actors shine:Leno’s interview to Hugh Laurie was real fun:Laurie is so witty and intelligent that every interview is a pleasure, even when they ask him the usual boring questions.

  • susan

    Leno dosen’t get better ratings then David Letterman every single night because people hate him. Just take his advice jimmy. He’s a pro.

  • Dee

    Leno has a point. Suprisingly, his interviews with Colin Firth and Terrence Howard were interesting and downright hilarious. Two actors I hardly know or care about. Then there were times I stayed up to watch marquee names and regretted it.

  • projectionista

    Jimmy Fallon is okay, but I think he’ll have a tough time in late night, especially against the sublime (and too often ignored) Craig Ferguson, and also considering the boost the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck videos gave to Jimmy Kimmel.

  • Raven_Moon

    March 2nd? I didn’t realize it was so soon. I’m not sure how he’ll be as a Late Night talk show host. If it doesn’t work out, at least I still have Ferguson.

  • keiren63

    In Canada, we had a talk show host who was famous for his over-preparation (he knew more about the stars than they did) so interviews were often more about him than the stars. But one of the best interviews he ever did was with Gordon Thompson…he played Adam on Dynasty. Exactly–big deal! But, he turned out to be one of the funniest, most interesting interviews I ever saw. He seemed like the person you would most want to have at a dinner party. The big stars are usually bored telling the same three stories to promote a project and not given away anything about their lives.

  • David Diachenko

    Jimmy Fallon’s guest spot on Leno merely proved what many have been asking about NBC’s shakeup: What in heck were they thinking?!? CBS has got to be enjoying their prospects for late-night. David Letterman will now compete with the excruciatingly annoying and unfunny Conan. And a flat, lame Jimmy Fallon will be pitted against the funniest talk show host in the business, the hilarious Craig Ferguson. I predict it won’t be long before they beg Leno to take back his old slot.

  • Delia

    I feel bad for Conan. He’s been changing his show slowly over the past couple of years to get ready for a mainstream (pedestrian) audience and he’s being set up for failure. Plus, his audience misses him. That was the one positive thing about the writers strike – classic Conan. He deserves way better. He’s still hands down the best interviewer in talk shows – he always makes the piece funny regardless of the guest. Pair him with Daniel Radcliffe and it doesn’t get much better.
    I am looking forward to Dave and Craig getting another look by some – they truly do bring a specific classiness to late night.

  • Amanda

    My favorite is LETTERMAN. I won’t watch the others. I LOVE when Julia Roberts comes on LETTERMAN. He just turns to mush! :)

  • Meli

    Excellent example of a not-big-star giving an excellent interview–Jim Parsons of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ on Craig Ferguson’s show. He’s shown that he is very funny, has excellent stories, and is willing to play along. And he’s not yet such a huge star that his appearance on a talk show guarantees ratings (btw, he’s only appeared twice on talk shows, both of them on Craig’s show)

  • AA

    I’m with Max–the only reason Leno is telling Jimmy that the show revolves around him is because Leno is incapable of a quality interviewing. Repeating, stammering, not listening. The guy is excruciating. And I imagine the only time he is tolerable (e.g. Hugh Laurie) is because the interviewee has talent. See ya later NBC.

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