Howard Stern had some sage advice for Jimmy Fallon as Fallon prepares to take over “The Tonight Show” next winter.
Appearing on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” on NBC Monday night, Stern congratulated Fallon, blasted Jay Leno (as usual), and told Fallon he’s skeptical that Fallon possesses the “killer instinct” Stern says is necessary to compete at 11:35 p.m. weeknights.
“You’re competing against [David] Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel — and Arsenio’s coming on,” Stern said, noting that Arsenio Hall is rejoining the late-night fray next fall. “It’s a jungle [and] you don’t have the killer instinct in you!”
“But I think we have a solid show,” Fallon replied meekly.
“You do!” Stern fired back. “But you gotta steal guests from Kimmel, you gotta steal guests from Letterman! You gotta get the best guests! I can’t come on here every night!”
Stern even admitted that, when it comes to the late-night wars, he favors Jimmy Kimmel because the two are close friends. “Listen, I have a big problem with you moving to 11:30,” Stern told Fallon. “I am very close to Jimmy Kimmel, and I like you, but I think I like Jimmy better as a friend. You haven’t been a good friend to me. He’s actually my friend!”
“You better attack him!” Stern said about Kimmel. “Jimmy [Kimmel] already said, ‘I’m gonna win on guests because I’m in Los Angeles and Jimmy Fallon is in New York.’ And he’s right. He’s already plotting your demise! And you’re sitting here like nothing’s happening! Wake up!”
On the subject of Leno, Stern was harsh — as he usually is when he goes on the late-night shows to talk about late-night TV, which is a topic he loves and studies religiously. “I am so grateful that you are taking over ‘The Tonight Show’,” Stern told Fallon. “I think it’s fantastic. I subscribe to the anyone-but-Jay philosophy!”
“No offense to you,” Stern said. “You know I love you, but if they had replaced Jay with Ahmadinejad over in Iran, I am telling you I wouldn’t have cared. Charlie Manson could have taken over ‘The Tonight Show’ as long as it’s not Jay Leno.”
Stern admonished Fallon and his band, The Roots, as soon as he came on-stage. He told Fallon that the ratings for his current show — “Late Night” — are so low, they barely beat Craig Ferguson on CBS’s “Late Late Show.” “How you got ‘The Tonight Show,’ I don’t know!” said Stern, who also scolded the Roots for seeming to lack the energy required to compete at 11:35.
Stern also talked about his own NBC show, “America’s Got Talent,” which recently started its new season with Heidi Klum and Mel B joining Stern and Howie Mandel on the judges’ panel.
True to form, Stern dismissed the other judges as unimportant to the success of the summer talent series. “The [other] judges don’t matter to me,” Stern said. “I’m there. I’m holding the show together!”