Heeere's Jimmy: Former Saturday Night Live Star Jimmy Fallon to Take Over Conan O'Brien's 12:30 a.m. Slot
But by the end of the noontime press conference today confirming headlines which had broken over the weekend -- that former Saturday Night Live star Jimmy Fallon was taking over the 12:30 a.m. timeslot on NBC once held by Conan O'Brien -- the baby-faced comic was cracking jokes like an old school standup working the Catskills.
"In my kindergarten yearbook, the photo said 'Most likely to take over for David Letterman'...my principal was Nostradamus," Fallon said, laughing. "I talked to my wife, and she's very excited...she left me a note this morning saying, 'Nice knowing you.' So she knows it's going to take a lot of hard work."
Joined by NBC suits and executive producer Lorne Michaels, Fallon admitted he doesn't know a lot about his new gig. Like when it's going to start ("Sometime in the first six months of '09," cracked Michaels. "Or the second six months."). Whether he'll have a band and/or sidekick. Who is going to be on the production team. Or what the name of the show will be, beyond keeping the term "Late Night".
Indeed, NBC's relationship with outgoing Tonight Show host Jay Leno -- who is scheduled to be replaced by O'Brien in 2009, making the Late Night timeslot available -- has made much of this situation uncertain, as Michaels admitted during today's press conference. As early as last July, NBC executives were making nervous noises about keeping Leno happy, indicating they hadn't yet figured out the current Tonight Show host's new role in a world where O'Brien would be taking over his timeslot.
"They're changing the 'With Conan O'Brien part," quipped Fallon. "I'm going to dye my hair red and get lifts in my shoes."
Nightmare scenarios have the current top-rated host in late night -- who seems too young and too much of workaholic to actually retire -- heading to ABC for a post-Nightline spot or to the Fox network, which does not have a successful late night program. But delaying the switch would mean paying O'Brien a sizable penalty and watching that top-rated late night star become available to switch networks in 2009.
Fallon's announcement would seem to add a bit of pressure to the situation, adding less incentive for NBC to change its plans and more questions across the industry about when they will resolve something with Leno, already.
Michaels seemed to downplay that notion today, emerging as the unlikeliest of programing powerhouses at fourth-place NBC. When Fallon's show debuts, he will likely have executive producer credit on Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey's buzzed-about sitcom 30 Rock, The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and Fallon's Late Night.
Playing the wise man onstage, Michaels emphasized several times that new late night programs get boatloads of criticism in their early years -- as O'Brien and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel did. "We’re in a big fight here in network television," said Michaels. "The enemy isn’t other networks but Internet videos and guitar hero…The show has to be re-invented, and if you're up for the challenge, it's an exciting time."
Click the link below to tread the official press release:
NBC NAMES JIMMY FALLON AS HOST OF "LATE NIGHT" WHEN CONAN O'BRIEN TAKES OVER "THE TONIGHT SHOW" IN 2009
NEW YORK, May 12, 2008 – NBC has identified the last piece in its late night succession plan, naming Jimmy Fallon as the new host of "Late Night" when Conan O'Brien moves to "The Tonight Show" in 2009.
The announcement was made today by Marc Graboff and Ben Silverman, Co-Chairmen, NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios, at a press conference at the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center.
"We couldn't be happier to have Jimmy back on NBC and to have our number one-rated late night team fully in place for the future," said Silverman, "Jimmy is more than just a likeable guy and a great comedian, he is genuinely interested in what people have to say."
"Jimmy's proven track record and personality make him a natural for this important role that will bring a new generation of fans to 'Late Night,'" said Graboff. "He will put his own distinct mark on late night humor just as he did on 'SNL' and in his other creative endeavors."
Added Rick Ludwin, Executive Vice President, Late Night and Primetime Series, NBC Entertainment, "Simply put, Jimmy has all of the qualities for a late night host -- in addition to being funny, he loves talking to people on and off camera, he's a talented comedy writer and his time at 'SNL' demonstrated not only his ability to entertain, but also the work ethic and dedication it takes to succeed at hosting a nightly show."
A recognized comic talent, Fallon has demonstrated an ability to deliver versatile, standout performances while always staying grounded in his stand-up roots.
Fallon first garnered attention in 1998 when he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" and quickly became an audience favorite for his memorable recurring characters and spot-on impressions and in 2000, Fallon became the co-anchor of the "SNL's" signature segment "Weekend Update" alongside Tina Fey.
Fallon ventured off into other television roles, including Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's Emmy award-winning miniseries "Band of Brothers." A favorite among the MTV audience, Fallon hosted the MTV Movie Awards twice and hosted the MTV Video Music Awards in 2002. Fallon made an impressive turn guest hosting "The Late Show" for an ailing David Letterman in 2003.
Fallon made his feature film debut in Cameron Crowe's "Almost Famous" and went on to appear in numerous films including Woody Allen's "Anything Else," "Fever Pitch" opposite Drew Barrymore and the indie "Factory Girl."
The premiere date for "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" will be announced at a later date. Lorne Michaels is executive producer. "Late Night" is a production of Universal Media Studios in association with Broadway Video. NBC is America's Late Night Leader with the number one-rated "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "Last Call with Carson Daly" and "Saturday Night Live."