After ABC’s late-night host Jimmy Kimmel got some ink last week for winning an NBA-boosted night two weeks back, NBC’s Jimmy Fallon won both NBA Finals nights last week – for The Tonight Show‘s first adults 18-49 wins on NBA nights since 2011 (Jimmy Kimmel Live had been beating Tonight Show on every NBA night in the demo, going back that far). Fallon delivered a decisive win in late-night ratings for the week of June 9-13, beating the combined rating of JKL and CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman in the demo (Fallon: 1.24/6; Kimmel: 0.79/4; Letterman: 0.43/2). NBC’s Friday results were excluded due to a lengthy NHL overrun; Kimmel was in rebroadcast two days last week; Letterman ran an encore Friday).
There is no one who has had more success and holds more influence in late-night at the moment than Lorne Michaels. Next season will mark the 40th anniversary of the Canadian native’s signature series, Saturday Night Live, which redefined variety shows. He has executive produced NBC’s Late Night since 1993 and last year added oversight of The Tonight Show, which he helped bring back to New York. Hosted by his SNL pupils Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, the new Tonight Show and Late Night have been ratings powerhouses. In a rare interview, Michaels, 69, talks about his longtime connection to The Tonight Show that goes back over 50 years when he first saw it live, shares behind-the-scene SNL stories of how he almost became the host of Weekend Update and how his recurring cameos on the show came about and reflects on SNL’s “hard” rebuilding season and possible casting changes.
DEADLINE: When did you become interested in late-night?
LORNE MICHAELS: I think probably in high school. I would stay up to watch The Tonight Show, first with Jack Paar and later Johnny Carson. They were 90-minute shows then. I’d have early classes, so I’d watch the first 15 minutes and say, “I’m just going to watch the monologue, and then maybe I’ll see what Johnny does at the end.” And then, it’d be 1 in the morning, and credits would be rolling.
Jonah Hill, making the rounds to plug 22 Jump Street, opened his Tonight Show visit last night with an apology for the homophobic slur he hurled at a paparazzo over the weekend. “Unfortunately, this isn’t a joke,” Hill began as the audience revved up, expecting some funny business, sobering them up quick. ”I didn’t mean it in a homophobic way,” he said of the slur he’d used, which was caught on tape. “That doesn’t matter… words have weight and meaning.” Watch here:
Jimmy Fallon introduced his latest Brian Williams video on The Tonight Show — this time the newsman rapped Snoop Dogg’s classic “Gin And Juice“. After the performance, the NBC Nightly News anchor stopped by to complain about this and all previous videos: “I’m downstairs, I’m doing the [Nightly News] broadcast that pays for your ‘hobby,’ and people think I have somehow colluded into the making of these videos. Let’s be clear– I’ve never said ‘hippity’.”
“I love that guy,” Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon effused tonight of David Letterman — one night after Letterman announced he would retire next year. “It’s hard to imagine late-night TV without him, ’cause he revolutionized it. He made it what it is today. And, after I heard the news, I kind of started thinking about reasons why Letterman is retiring. … If you want, I could just read my Top 10.” Here’s the clip:
With NBC’s The Tonight Show making a transition from host Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon midway through the season, both versions are eligible for Primetime Emmys. The same goes for Late Night and its incarnations hosted by Fallon and Seth Meyers. I’ve learned that both The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon are being submitted by NBC along with Late Night With Seth Meyers, Last Call With Carson Daly and the network’s venerable late-night sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live. NBC was in a similar situation during the 2009-2010 season when both The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien, which aired through January, and Tonight Show With Jay Leno, which succeeded it, were submitted (O’Brien landed a nomination). Given the fact that Fallon just moved into Tonight Show and is looking to establish himself as host, it makes sense for him only to be submitted for that show. For Leno, this could be the last time he is up for a late-night Emmy. His Tonight Show has been nominated 10 times for Best Music, Comedy Or Variety Series, winning once. Fallon and Meyers’ previous shows, Late Night and SNL, also have been nominated in the top variety category.
Biggest difference happened on Monday night when Fallon did two opening monologues – the first in which he introduced himself and set up the show’s storyline for the next (NBC hopes) 20 years or so, trying to put at ease the many Jay Leno viewers who heard Jay say he’s good with being shown the door while still No. 1 in the ratings, but who may not feel so hot about it themselves. That night, Fallon described himself as a guy who grew up in a small town and lives with his “beautiful wife” and six-month old daughter Winnie who he loves so much. He noted his announcer Steve Higgins is from Iowa and lives with his wife and great kids, and that his band The Roots, had backed up Tony Bennett.
Not coincidentally, Fallon’s opening mirrored Leno’s Tonight Show finale in many ways. Both men’s shows included a parade of celebrities paying tribute to the host (weirdly, Kim Kardashian appeared in both parades, though it may not be so odd, what with her Keeping Up with the Kardashians being produced by Ryan Seacrest — an important member of the NBC-parent Comcast family). Jay Leno ended his final broadcast talking about losing his mother and father in the first year he hosted the program; Fallon began his tenure on Tonight with a wave to his mom and dad in the audience, saying how happy he was they are still around, and telling them he hoped they were proud of him, adding “thanks for being there, you guys, I love you.”