Jimmy Fallon's 'Tonight Show' Debut Features Major Guests, Cameos & Expectations
by Julian Spivey
Jimmy Fallon’s debut as host of NBC’s long-running late night talk show “The Tonight Show” premiered on Monday, Feb. 17 with major guests, major cameos and major expectations.
Fallon kicked off his debut with a somewhat odd, but still entertaining and funny monologue. The odd part came in his seemingly prolonged introduction of himself and his show, which can probably be forgiven as he does have at least a partial new audience, with people tuning in who didn’t watch him on “Late Night.” However, when he basically explained to the audience what a monologue was things really went over the top. Trust me Fallon, you’re not the first guy to ever do one.
When he finally got to the jokes they were as funny as usual for Fallon, staying mostly on the topic of the Winter Olympics, which NBC has used to boost Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ premiere. The monologue included ‘Tonight Show Superlatives,’ the first bit that Fallon has transferred from ‘Late Night’ to “The Tonight Show” and hopefully just one of many that will make the transition.
Fallon’s monologue also included numerous cameos from athletes whom the host claimed owed him $100 for saying he’d never be the host of “The Tonight Show” – these cameos included Fallon friends like Robert De Niro, Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan and other celebrities like Mariah Carey, Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogan, Joan Rivers and more. The funniest cameo coming from Stephen Colbert who paid off his bet with a bucket of $100 in pennies.
The first comedy bit on Fallon’s ‘Tonight Show’ was the “Evolution of Hip Hop Dancing” featuring guest star Will Smith where the duo hilariously ran through a list of some of the funniest and most memorable dance crazes of the last three decades.
Following the bit was a special performance by musical guest U2 from the very top of the Rockefeller Center, were “The Tonight Show” is filmed – the first time the show has aired in New York City in over 40 years since it debuted there. The group rocked through a performance of their newest single “Invisible.”
The performance was followed by an entertaining interview with Fallon’s first ‘Tonight Show’ guest Will Smith, who always proves to be one of the funniest and most entertaining late night talk show guests no matter whose show he’s on. This probably stems from the fact that Smith generally seems like one of the most likable celebrities in Hollywood.
Afterward, U2 joined Fallon for a short interview before an impressive acoustic performance of their Oscar-nominated song “Ordinary Love” from the film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
Fallon’s premiere episode as ‘Tonight Show’ host went rather smoothly with big stars and big performances. There wasn’t a whole lot of time on the show with everything going along for a lot of big laughs, but knowing Fallon, those will be following shortly. I’m betting “The Tonight Show” is going to be the best it’s been since the days of Johnny Carson.
by Aprille Hanson
What makes a good kiss? Fresh breath, the taste of cherry lip gloss, the touch of your love’s hand on your face? Perhaps. But what makes a great TV kiss is not so much about the technique, but the story and emotion built around the characters. Watching love blossom on the small screen for a few episodes or even several seasons and having it bubble over into a kiss, the simplest and most honest expression of love, can make fans smile, laugh, jump for joy or even cry.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, get ready to swoon over my list of the greatest television kisses.
Frasier, “Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Part II”
For seven seasons, fans of the lovably pompous Frasier Crane watched his younger brother Niles pine for Frasier’s housekeeper, Daphne, despite being married to a mysterious, stick thin, snobby mess named Maris (who we never get to see). During the show’s run, the attraction on Niles’ end made for some wonderful bits of comedy and moments of pure tragedy. He was the ultimate Charlie Brown, trying to work up the nerve to kick (or kiss) that football (Daphne) but never could … until Season 7. High on painkillers, Frasier lets it slip to Daphne that Niles is in love with her, but things are complicated. He is now married to another woman and Daphne is about to wed a sweet man named Donny. The night before her wedding, both have a moment alone, knowing full well that the secret is out. Under the stars, Daphne embraces Niles in a kiss that was seven years in the making. It’s only momentary joy however, as she tells him she can’t leave Donny. The next day, as Niles sits in the cab of the family’s Winnebago, unable to face the wedding, Daphne shows up in her wedding dress. That kiss was the beginning of one of the best romance stories in television history.
M*A*S*H: “Comrades in Arms: Part I”
Set in the 1950s at the MASH 4077 unit during the Korean War, a group of surgeons laughed, cried and dreaded seeing the horrors of war unfold in front of them. Never in the history of television has a show captured the essence of comedy and drama so elegantly, so real. Hawkeye Pierce, lead surgeon and the unit’s funny man, always enjoyed picking on Hot Lips, head nurse Margaret Houlihan. While he loved joking around with her like they were school children, much to her dismay, there was always this veiled longing that didn’t bubble to the surface until Season 6. Trapped behind enemy lines alone in a hut as bombs are blasting all around them, the two suddenly embrace and share a kiss. It was a passionately tragic moment for the characters, realizing that they might die right there. It was a kiss stemmed from fear, respect and love for one another. The characters survived and a relationship never materialized, which is what makes the kiss even more perfect.
Gilmore Girls: “Raincoats and Recipes”
Luke Danes, the local diner owner in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut, is an opinionated, grumpy-old-man-type character, who falls for Lorelai Gilmore, the free spirit who has a close-knit relationship with her daughter Rory, who she had at just 16. As fans watched Lorelai float through men that were all wrong for her while her perfectly, imperfect man was just down the street at the diner, it made it all worth it at the end of season 4. On the steps of her new Bed & Breakfast, “The Dragonfly,” he embraces her in a kiss. The episode itself includes a sleep-walking (or running rather) naked townsperson, a fight between Lorelai and Rory and other unexpected mishaps. But it’s that one, sweet quite moment that makes fans just adore that episode.
Cheers: “Showdown, Part One”
“Cheers” is a show that is imbedded in our pop culture. Not only did it spin-off the successful, Emmy-winning show “Fraiser,” it made us fall in love with this bar where “everybody knows your name.” The characters made that show a classic and the hunky baseball-player-turned-bartender Sam Malone and the snooty, highly educated waitress Diane Chambers were perfection. When they say opposites attract, these are the characters they’re talking about. In the penultimate episode of season one, Diane starts to date Sam’s brother. But he’s too late to the party – Sam and Diane have already had this electric chemistry from the get-go. In the midst of a very heated argument between the two in his office, the two finally let go in an angry, passionate kiss. It’s a significant moment in their relationship and the series as a whole.
The Office: Casino Night
There will never be a sweeter, funnier office comedy then, well, “The Office.” Throughout its eight-season run, the show’s humor captured audiences, but we all stayed for the romance between paper salesman Jim and secretary Pam. Though she is engaged to Roy, a horrible choice for someone like her, Jim pined for her. Finally at the end of season two, during a casino night during at the paper company’s warehouse, he admits his feelings for her. She turns him down, apologizing for him mistaking their natural chemistry for love. But when it’s true love, you don’t give up. He winds up going back into the office and the two share a sweet kiss. It marks the first in their long love story.
The Mindy Project: “Desert”
Mindy Kaling is a master at building a love story. She proved it most when for three seasons, the rom-com obsessed obstetrician/gynecologist Mindy Lahiri (played by her) is searching for love only to fall for fellow doctor and close friend Danny Castellano. It’s a love storyline that could go either way – they start out kind of getting on each other’s nerves, then it develops into a close friendship and finally, in season three, we see Castellano give in to his emotions. He’s just gotten done having a reunion with his long-estranged father and has helped Mindy write an email to her boyfriend who just broke up with her, to win him back. They’re on a plane back to New York when Mindy is in the back of the plane, grabbing him a bottle of water. The plane jolts as he’s seated (it’s an ode to a previous episode where he grabs her hand on a plane) and his face says it all. He runs to the back where she’s at, catches her off guard and passionately kisses her. She stops and gives in and the scene fades back with them a tiny little make-out session which is sweet and perfect.
The Big Bang Theory: “The Tangerine Factor” & “The Locomotive Manipulation”
There’s just this desire in American pop culture for the nerds to get the girl, which is why I can’t just pick one kiss from “The Big Bang Theory.” The first is between physicist Leonard Hofstadter, who has been pining for the bleach blonde waitress Penny, who lives across the hall. They strike up a friendship, but Leonard wants more and finally works up the nerve to ask her out. They agree to go out on a date, but throughout the whole episode, the two stress about it, asking advice from the robot-like scientist Sheldon, who explains the theory of “Schrodinger’s Cat.” When Leonard picks Penny up, he tests the theory immediately with a kiss. Penny says, “the cat’s alive,” and the two go onto their date and subsequently, a relationship.
Season seven just saw a television miracle – Sheldon Cooper, a man who is strictly science, has no concept or use for physical or really even emotional connections with anyone, kissed his long-time girlfriend Amy Farrah Fowler. Out of anger, but still, when he gets to her lips, we see for the first-time a human, spontaneous side to Sheldon. Upset that Amy’s intentions of a vintage train ride were simply to be romantic with him on Valentine’s Day (how dare she), he starts spewing off things that are romantic – wine drinking, staring into each other’s eyes – it’s a full-blown tantrum. Then he says, “Oh, kissing,” and lands on her lips. She may be shocked, but the viewers are even more, especially when he decides to lean into the kiss. It’s exciting for the future of the show and for nerds everywhere.
by Julian Spivey
When “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” debuted five years ago I didn’t believe it had a shot at living up to the greatness that preceded on “Late Night” in the stints hosted by Conan O’Brien and David Letterman, but now that Fallon has wrapped up his stint and prepares to debut on “The Tonight Show” in a little over a week I realize that he not only lived up to those legacies, but created one for himself.
Fallon’s five-year tenure as host of “Late Night” gave not just some of the most memorable late night television moments I’d ever seen, but some of the greatest TV moments altogether. Whether he was impersonating Neil Young with Bruce Springsteen, combining David Bowie and Tim Tebow for a genius concoction or just improvising with announcer Steve Higgins and house-band The Roots, Fallon was always entertaining and capable of putting a smile upon my face.
His farewell episode of “Late Night” on Friday, Feb. 7 was no different. One of my favorite moments was between guest Andy Samberg and the show’s final segment featuring The Muppets when Fallon, Higgins and The Roots took a few moments to share some of their very favorite memories on “Late Night” whether it was Higgins pranking Fallon during a Christmas sweaters bit, Higgins having his pants fall down to his ankles midshow or The Roots’ drummer Questlove doing an unintentional spittake after having water go down the wrong way. The best part of this bit was Fallon and Higgins sharing memories of how they met when Fallon began his tenure on “Saturday Night Live” in the late ‘90s with Higgins being a producer there (Higgins is still a producer at ‘SNL’ in addition to his work with Fallon).
The opening segment of the show was a great way to kickoff Fallon’s final episode performing the zydeco classic “On A Night Like This” with special guest Buckwheat Zydeco and The Roots. My favorite aspect of “Late Night” was Fallon’s mixture of music and comedy and it’s something that I know he’s going to carry with him to “The Tonight Show.”
It was Fallon’s final “Late Night” segment with special guests The Muppets that truly proved to be the perfect sendoff for his installment of this show and matched the essence of everything his “Late Night” truly was. Fallon and The Muppets took a queue from The Band’s last concert “The Last Waltz,” turned into a classic rock documentary by famed director Martin Scorsese and performed The Band’s classic “The Weight.” Following the performance Fallon gracefully exited his “Late Night” studio walked across the hall to his future ‘Tonight Show’ studio and literally opened a new door in his career to the cheers and adulation of his crew.
by Julian Spivey
Jay Leno’s farewell (at least we think) from “The Tonight Show” on Thursday, Feb. 6 was a highly emotional one for the longtime host of America’s most-watched late night talk show.
Leno’s heartfelt and teary-eyed goodbye at the end of the episode was enough to bring tears to the eyes of the 14-plus million watching at home as he thanked everyone from his loyal fans to his crew to the many guests over the years at his Burbank, Calif. studio.
Leno’s departure from the show to make way for Jimmy Fallon’s newest installment of “The Tonight Show,” which debuts on Monday, Feb. 17, is one that is equally exciting and disappointing for many fans of late night television. Leno’s hardcore fans aren’t ready for the ratings king of late night to go, but over the years Leno has become the most polarizing and hated of the late night hosts for the debacle that saw him and NBC basically oust Conan O’Brien, Leno’s first ‘Tonight Show’ successor, from the show in 2010. Leno’s brand of humor is also criticized by many for being easy, “unfunny” and depending on the stupidity of others (Headlines, Jaywalking) for laughs.
Leno’s final monologue was generally unfunny as he rattled off a list of one-liners about the differences between his first episode of “The Tonight Show” and his last.
This was followed immediately by his last guest Billy Crystal, who was his first guest on “The Tonight Show” back in 1992. Crystal began his segment by running off a list of some of his favorite Leno monologue jokes from over the host’s 22 years on the show – some of which were actually funny. The highlight of Crystal’s appearance came when he and many surprise guests – Oprah Winfrey, Carol Burnett, Jack Black, Jim Parsons, Sheryl Crow, Kim Kardashian and Chris Paul – performed a funny take on “So Long, Farewell” from “The Sound of Music” to Leno’s amusement.
One of Leno’s all-time favorite musical guests, Garth Brooks, returned to the show to send Leno off with a performance of reportedly one of Leno’s favorite songs “The Dance.” The performance was exquisite, but maybe a bit too overdone in its message … but that just depends on how you feel about Leno, I guess. After Leno’s emotional goodbye, Brooks returned to the stage to perform a rendition of his rousing country classic “Friends in Low Places.”
For many of the reasons previously mentioned Leno’s legacy as host of “The Tonight Show” is going to be a contentious one, depending on your views of the man. However, his popularity (at least when it comes to ratings) cannot be denied. It should be interesting to see how new host Jimmy Fallon does in the ratings department, as compared to his predecessor, and more importantly for him and NBC against late night rivals David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel.