Tonight‘s new host continues to pull out all the stops during his first week on the job. Night No. 1 brought a parade of cameos from celebrities, including Tina Fey, Lady Gaga, Mike Tyson, Stephen Colbert, and, perhaps most notably, Joan Rivers — making her first Tonight appearance since Johnny Carson banned her from the program in the ’80s. (He was furious at his guest host for getting her own talk show on Fox.) Night No. 2 welcomed the return of Fallon’s Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet (singing the remix of “Ignition,” naturally), as well as a boy-band member who looked an awful lot like Kristen Wiig.
Night No. 3 followed suit, presenting a pair of videos sure to blow up on YouTube. First up, we’ve got the sequel to Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s immortal “#Hashtag,” this time starring Jonah Hill as Jimmy’s partner in Twitter speak. #Funny #NostalgiaBait #GuessWhoShowsUpIt’sMartinScorsese #SpoilerAlert #Oops.
Jimmy Fallon performed R. Kelly’s classic “Ignition (Remix)” last night, barbershop quartet-style. Three guys joined the new Tonight Show host on stage, all wearing matching striped jackets and bow-ties, to sing the 2003 hit. Who knew a remix of a remix could be so good? Watch the clip below: READ FULL STORY
On Tuesday, the Bridesmaids star strapped on some truly gravity-defying hair for her first appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s second Tonight Show. But Wiig wasn’t there to plug a new project (though her mock-miniseries The Spoils of Babylonrecently wrapped up on IFC, and she’s got several movies in the works) — she was there to impersonate 20-year-old One Direction heartthrob and possible Kardashian family accessory Harry Styles.
Well, maybe “impersonate” isn’t exactly the right word. Wiig is a talented mimic — but she didn’t bother trying to ape Harry’s voice or mannerisms on Tonight. Instead, the whole joke of the segment was that Wiig doesn’t know the most basic things about Styles, from how his boy band formed to the simple fact that he’s, uh, from England. It’s a fun, loose bit that inevitably leads to both Wiig and Fallon cracking up like they’ve forgotten they’re on television — but if you’re already a fan of either, you’ll probably cracking along with them. Especially when Wiig takes a stab at naming Harry’s favorite food.
Everything had to go wrong for Jimmy Fallon to get The Tonight Show. NBC had to choose Leno over Letterman, and then choose Leno again over O’Brien: A pair of historic injustices, if you’re the kind of person who treats millionaire-white-dude desk-swapping like generation-defining culture-quakes. There’s a school of thinking that Letterman and O’Brien “deserved” The Tonight Show — not to mention two decades of jokes about how Leno didn’t deserve it. But deserve’s got nothing to do with it. The Tonight Show is a powerful concept — a way to talk about Hollywood or America or Comedy or Whatever Matters Now — but it’s also a straightforward piece of old-fashioned showbiz, a variety show airing five times a week on a network that needs to make money.
Letterman and O’Brien always had a perspective on the late-night franchise that was simultaneously admirable and totally weird: They seemed to buy in completely to the grand idea of The Tonight Show, but also want more than anything to stamp themselves completely onto that grand idea. As related in Bill Carter’s The War for Late Night, O’Brien could have actually kept The Tonight Show but refused to move it back to midnight. Four years later, it’s hard to tell whether that exit was a brave blow struck in the eternal battle of Individual against Machine, or a defining moment in the history of Taking Things Too Seriously. READ FULL STORY
Tonight, Jimmy Fallon officially launches the next wave for The Tonight Show when he kicks off his reign as host. (Fallon shared his own excitement about taking over the late night institution with fans on Instagram.) Though he has been saying for months that his version of The Tonight Show won’t waver very much from the format established by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, we won’t know whether or not that is true until after the credits roll on this evening’s premiere (and really, we won’t truly know until Fallon settles into a groove a few months from now).
His first week is packed with huge stars. Will Smith and U2 appear on tonight’s show, with Jerry Seinfeld, Kristen Wiig, and Lady Gaga handling guest duties on Tuesday. Wednesday includes Bradley Cooper and Tim McGraw, while Thursday’s show welcomes Michelle Obama, Will Ferrell, and Arcade Fire. Longtime Fallon friend and collaborator Justin Timberlake will be the sole visitor on Friday.
But there’s at least one thing we can take for granted going into tonight’s kick off, which airs at midnight to accomodate NBC’s ongoing coverage of the Olympics. No matter what bits, characters, and themes make the shift from Late Night to Tonight, the Roots will continue to serve as Fallon’s musical accompaniment and secret weapon. When the hip-hop collective took the job back in 2008, it seemed like a step down for a group who had already won a Grammy and scored a couple of gold records along the way. But now, they’re as big a cultural institution as they’ve ever been, and much of Fallon’s success has been fueled by The Roots’ ability to act as a savvy improv troupe and roll with the host’s musical whims.
In fact, most every one of the best moments from Late Night With Jimmy Fallon are music-related. In honor of the five years Fallon ruled the after-hours slot, here are five highlights of his run. READ FULL STORY
Tonight, when Jimmy Fallon takes over The Tonight Show, it may sound woefully out-of-date to suggest that he in any way wants to be, or should be, or is going to be “the new Johnny Carson.” The very phrase reeks of Vegas mothballs. Over the last two decades, starting with the moment when Jay Leno launched his Attack Of The Nice Guy blandified makeover, The Tonight Show has effectively been de-Johnny-fied, and Fallon, who is 24 years younger than Leno (and would be 49 years younger than Carson if Carson were still alive), represents a brand new generation — or maybe I should say a new-brand generation — in the dominance of late night. The amazing freshness of Fallon’s appeal is that he’s looking forward, not back. READ FULL STORY
Jay Leno said goodbye to The Tonight Show for the second time in his career on Thursday. Gone for good? So he joked. “I don’t need to be fired three times! I get the hint!” And so he wept, during his most personal — and arguably best — moment of his 22-year run as the custodian of the hallowed late night institution. “It really is time for me to go and hand it off to the next guy.” His last hour was a pretty good one, highlighted by the pure-pop moment of Billy Crystal bringing out a bunch of stars — Jack Black, Jim Parsons, Carol Burnett, Oprah Winfrey — for a snarky-funny ribbing of NBC for wanting Leno gone, or as the comedian put it earlier this week, in his sarcastic, self-serving way, “dead.” But those minutes, with Leno breaking down at his desk, were undeniably powerful. “This is tricky,” he said as he recalled how he lost his mother, father, and brother during the first three years of hosting The Tonight Show, and how the show and his work filled the void of a man suddenly without family, save for his wife of 34 years, Mavis. “This has been the greatest 22 years of life.”
It was a powerful exit for a man who loved his job and loves to work, perhaps too much, and who served his network faithfully if not always well, and vice versa. As affecting as Leno’s last bow might have been, the episodes that preceded the finale this past week represented a convincing argument that NBC needs a new suit sitting behind the desk, and a whole new creative sensibility in general. READ FULL STORY
Thursday night, the late night world said goodbye to Jay Leno as his final episode as host of the Tonight Show aired. Some took the opportunity to get one final Leno joke off their chest (guess who that was?), while others pushed their past issues with Leno aside and offered their congratulations. See what Leno’s peers had to say: READ FULL STORY
Lots of folks in the comedy community make a habit of giving Jay Leno a hard time — but Jimmy Fallon isn’t one of them. Even during the Great Tonight Dust-Up of 2010, Fallon refused to jump on the anti-Leno bandwagon, preferring instead not to take sides — and to assure his audience that he was just “happy to have a job.” (Granted, unlike Jimmy Kimmel or David Letterman, Fallon was working for the same network as Leno and Conan O’Brien — so it’s easy to understand why he’d want to take a neutral stance.)
And even now, mere weeks before Fallon is set to inherit Leno’s on-again, off-again late night throne, he’s still erring toward humble and gracious. As a guest on Leno’s fourth-to-last Tonight Show ever Monday, Fallon feted his predecessor as “the nicest guy in the business” — before launching into a “thank-you note” bit that celebrated Jay.
Melissa McCarthy is on a roll. Not only did she star in two of last year’s biggest comedies, but she’s also hosted Saturday Night Live in each of the last three seasons — the only performer to achieve that feat in that span. This past weekend, she didn’t even have a project to plug — a detail that became a funny gag in her opening monologue — but she’s one of those guests who clearly loves the show’s comedy environment. In fact, no one throws him or herself into characters more than McCarthy, who craves physical comedy perhaps more than any female comedian since Molly Shannon.
McCarthy had to share the limelight on Saturday, what with Seth Meyers’ touching farewell, but she delivered some great moments, including the return of aggressive coach-turned-congresswoman Sheila Kelly. It seems certain that she’ll be a major contender for Mr. Saturday Night after finishing second in the past two years, and she enters a race that is wide open. Jimmy Fallon holds a narrow lead, with 26.5 percent, while Drake slipped from first to a close second, with 24.3 percent. Josh Hutcherson saw his support nearly double from last week, and his fans have him right near the top, with 21.4 percent. Jonah Hill had a disappointing debut, with only 17.9 percent, but that was enough to eliminate Kerry Washington.
A quick rundown on our objective: To identify the funniest, most memorable SNL host, the person who best fit in with the cast and put on a performance that you, your mom, and your co-worker were all chuckling about on Sunday afternoon. It’s subjective, of course, but let’s reward the guest hosts who brought something special to the table. My own personal bottom line: Do you want to see this host back on the show next season?
So far, Bruce Willis, Miley Cyrus, Edward Norton, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey (Blerg), John Goodman, Paul Rudd, and Kerry Washington have been eliminated.
Below, I’ve embedded one representative clip for each of the five hosts currently in the race. After the poll closes, the host with the least support will be eliminated, and the surviving four will face off against the next host — still unannounced — on March 1, after the Winter Olympics are finished.