Jimmy Fallon finally “commented” — with jokes — on the news that has been swirling around him since March 1 that he’s poised to take over “The Tonight Show” some time next year.
The first stories about the scenario broke March 1, but Fallon, 38, remained silent on the story until Wednesday night (March 20), when he took up the subject in his opening monologue on NBC’s “Late Night.”
The reason he finally spoke out: A story Wednesday in The New York Times — by Bill Carter, the reporter who specializes in covering late-night TV — that said NBC is already building Fallon a new studio at its 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters, where a new Fallon “Tonight Show” will be based. It was a story Fallon must have felt he couldn’t ignore.
The news not only corroborated the March 1 story (reported by The Hollywood Reporter) about Fallon being groomed to take over for Jay Leno, but it also dropped the bombshell news that “The Tonight Show” would move from the West Coast, where it has originated for more than 40 years. NBC had no official confirmation on any of it.
Of course, Fallon didn’t comment seriously about the situation in his Wednesday monologue. Unsurprisingly, he joked about it, probably because he knew his studio audience and those watching at home had heard the news earlier in the day.
In fact, the applause that greeted him when he came on stage Wednesday night seemed louder than usual and Jimmy sensed it. “Welcome, everybody. Thank you very much,” Fallon said. “That feels good. Great New York City crowd. Welcome, everybody, to ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’.”
“We love you, Jimmy!” shouted a female voice from the audience.
“I love you too,” Fallon said. “Before we get started, I have to talk about the rumors that came out today which says that I’ll be moving up to 11:30. Or, as my parents call it: ‘Eh, still too late!’
“Actually, the rumors are true,” Fallon said (although we’re not sure whether to take that as an “official” confirmation of the news). “NBC is turning ‘The Tonight Show’ into a diving competition! So exciting!”
He then moved on from the late-night TV topic and into a couple of jokes about “Splash,” the ABC celebrity diving competition that drew an incredible 9 million viewers for its premiere Tuesday night.
Leno, meanwhile, has been on a tear — peppering his monologues with jokes about NBC, the network’s low prime-time ratings and his job status for more than a week. His Wednesday night monologue was a case in point: Watch it here, and hear what Jay had to say about NBC.