Jay Leno Uses Tonight Show Transition For Laughs
It was a gracious Jay Leno paving the way for his Tonight Show successor, Jimmy Fallon, and the show will be moving to New York.
Leno said on the Tonight Show, "I want to congratulate our good friend, Jimmy Fallon. He's a hell of a guy, he's going do a great job."
It's not happening until next February, but the Tonight Show theme was playing as Fallon made his entrance last night on Late Night.
Fallon said on his show, "You probably heard the news that I'm taking over the Tonight Show next February. But dont worry, until February, our focus is right here on whatever this show is called."
One nagging question is: Why would NBC replace the guy who's No. 1? NBC Universal's Chief Executive Officer, Steve Burke says, "We are purposefully making this change when Jay is No. 1, just as Jay replaced Johnny Carson when he was No. 1. Jimmy Fallon is a unique talent and this is his time."
Fallon's hilarious "mom dance" with first lady Michelle Obama last month shows the kind of humor that appeals to a young audience. But TV Guide business editor Steve Battaglio believes middle America will also embrace Jimmy Fallon.
Battaglio said, "He's a good entertainer. He's a terrific performer. He's not dark like some of the other talk show hosts that you've had in late night. He's a fun guy. I think middle America is going to like him."
Leno is playing the transition for laughs at the expense of his No. 1 rival, saying in his monologue, "Had a really awkward day today. I had to call David Letterman and tell him he didn't get the Tonight Show...again."
To his credit, Letterman played right along, saying on his show, "Got a call from my mom today. She said, 'Well, David, I see you didn't get the Tonight Show again."
The big question is, will this transition work, or will it be another disaster like the Conan O'Brien debacle of 2009?
Battaglio said, "You're not going to have the same debacle you had several years ago when they tried to give the show to Conan O'Brien before Jay was ready to leave."
Leno told The New York Times: "The main difference between this and the other time is I'm part of the process. The last time, the decision was made without me. I came into work one day and 'you're out.'"
And as he officially passed the torch, Jay Leno couldn't resist poking fun at his own network.
"I just have one request of Jimmy. We've all fought and kicked and scratched to get to fifth place. Now we have to keep it there. Jimmy, don't let it slip to sixth. We're counting on you."