The dust has barely settled on the “Late Night…” scene, after the debacle with Coco and Leno – when it has blown up AGAIN.
A couple of years ago, NBC were worried about losing young audiences to ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel, so they dropped Conan O’Brien from his spot down to Jay Leno’s Tonight Show.
Then, fearing Leno would go to a rival, they gave him a show preceding that slot, figuring it would save them a packet, being a lot cheaper than PrimeTime filmed drama.
Great. Except the new Leno show TANKED – which brought all sorts of crap down on them from the affiliates.
And so they swallowed their pride and put Leno back on the Tonight Show, giving Coco a big chunk of cash to just go away.
But now, much sooner than expected, they have announced Jimmy Fallon – who acquired Coco’s old slot – will take over the Tonight Show NEXT SPRING.
In a way, things have gone full circle. The Tonight Show’s heyday was ruled by a then-young Johnny Carson, who initially taped the show at 30 Rock, in New York – at the same studio (6B) Jimmy Fallon currently tapes at. Only later did the Tonight Show move to LA.
And next year, it will RETURN to 30 Rock, hosted by Fallon and exec produced by Lorne Michaels – Fallon’s old boss, from his SNL days. The two men remain personal friends.
Indeed, it appears that this transition will be more friendly all round than the MESS that occurred last time.
Jimmy and Jay seem to genuinely like each other, with Jay being happy enough to finally be moving on for good.
Of course, Jay is still number one, ratings-wise, so he can leave with his head held REASONABLY high (although Johnny QUIT of his own accord, after thirty years).
As for whether Jimmy can KEEP the Tonight Show at number one – that remains to be seen.
Jimmy Kimmel started his show on ABC while still young – as did Dave Letterman (albeit many years ago) on CBS – so one suspects NBC will be happy to give Fallon TIME to establish himself.
Here in Thailand, where this writer retired over a decade ago, the Late Night US chat shows have been screened erratically.
DiggerVision tried Kimmel for a while – then swapped him out for Letterman – then dumped Letterman in favour of cheap reality crap, most of it Digger’s.
Meanwhile, CNBC Asia has ALWAYS screened a selection of their Late Night shows at the weekend. Ten years ago, they ran two random Tonight Shows from the previous week – usually including Monday’s – then after a few years, extended it to all five.
And when Coco took over, they continued.
But after a few more years, without apology, explanation or even acknowledgement, they suddenly switched to Jimmy Fallon’s shows – again all five, but from Friday to Thursday, to give them more time to edit.
So what WE will get when Jimmy Fallon moves, heaven alone knows. At the moment, there has been no announcement as to what will happen to Jimmy’s current US slot.
There is ANOTHER show which follows Jimmy – Carson Daly – but from what this historian has seen of THAT, he FERVENTLY hopes CNBC follows Mister Fallon…
UPDATE! We now learn that fellow-SNL-er Seth Meyers will fill Jimmy’s seat – he’ll do!