I was a late arrival to my love and admiration on the Jimmy Fallon bandwagon, but as friends can attest, when I fall, I fall. He was great on SNL for al those years, but when he moved to Late Night it was far too late for me, so I missed all the hubbub until people started posting youtube videos of great bits and song. When Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake began their collaboration and friendship, I was hooked. Their relationship spawned some fantastic songs and bits that highlighted both their talents and mutual admiration.
When they announced that Jimmy Fallon would be replacing Jay Leno, I was both sad and happy. I have always been a Jay Leno fan and never understood any of the public animosity. When NBC pushed Leno out the first time, it will go down in history as one of the worst network decisions in the television annals. Their handling of the situation was devoid of reason or humanity and it backfired hugely. This go around, the announcement was handled superbly but not because of the network, but because Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon took the bull by the horns and made it work together. Who can forget their incredible rendition of "Tonight" from West Side Story? Though Jay Leno was being pushed out again, it was palatable this time. Even Jay said that he was aging out. He wasn't conversive in social media nor did he want to be. So this time, though there may have been some sadness and adjustment, but the decision was made with love and respect.
Jay's last show was right before the Olympics began and Jimmy Fallon's debut as the new host of The Tonight Show was last night. Can I say home run? Jimmy Fallon made the pivotal decision to bring The Tonight Show back to New York City where it began. That was sheer brilliance. First of all, it makes it harder to compare. Now it's apples to oranges. And really after staying up and watching the first show, there is no comparison. The beauty of the opening credits showcasing NYC in all its glory with Jimmy finally walking into 30 Rockefeller Plaza and entering through the curtains, was setting a whole new tone. And yet, it wasn't wholly new because it's where the show began in the 1950's. It's back where it belongs. Jimmy's monologue paid homage to all The Tonight Show hosts of the past. He pointed out his parents and thanked them. He introduced his band, The Roots, with huge accolades. He introduced us to his side-kick/announcer, Steve Higgins with much love.
The show started off with a string of celebrity appearances that supposedly lost a $100 bet to Jimmy that he'd never be the host. Robert DeNiro, Mariah Carey, Mike Tyson, Kim Kardashian, Lindsey Lohan, Lady Gaga, Steven Colbert, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, Rudy Guiliani, and more that slip my mind, but the most important and meaningful moment was Joan Rivers. Joan had been banned from The Tonight Show for over 30 years because Johnny Carson got mad at her. For whatever reason, Jay continued it. Thank you, Jimmy Fallon for welcoming her as she welcomed you. It meant a lot.
Up next, the history of hip hop through dance with Will Smith. It was funny and funnier that Jimmy danced better than Will Smith. Cut to the Top of the Rock and there was U2 on the rooftop at with the Rutgers drumline performing. An exquisite view with all of New York City at sunset as its backdrop. Glorious! Back inside for an affable conversation with Will Smith as the shows first guest. U2 came and sat on the couch and Jimmy Fallon got them to sing acoustically their academy award nominated song, An Ordinary Love from Mandela: A Long Walk Home. What a great moment and I'm not a big U2 fan. Great television.
You, Jimmy Fallon, have done a wonderful thing for New York City and for late night television. Welcome and may this be the beginning of a long Broadway run!
Sidebars: Oy, The Bachelor. More yucky this season than ever, it's like a car wreck. I can't give it up and with the previews for next week, I just wish I could watch in person with my sister. :-( Downton Abbey is the best and most enjoyable television. I can't believe it's over for the season on Sunday. The best line of the night, which were plentiful by the divine Dame Maggie Smith, was: "All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. First one, then the next, then the next, until at last we die." I rewound four times to hear that. I may be using that quote again and again. Coming very late to the knowledge that you can watch the Olympics live on NBCSports. What an incredible difference to watch the ice dancing without all the BS commentary. I actually got to enjoy the skating and the moment. Sorry I found this NBC "secret" out late. That's how the Olympics should be viewed, live and unedited. Thanks to my Mother for that big tidbit. American Idol tonight. Tickets to Justin Timberlake at the Garden Thursday!!! Woohoo!
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