Monday, April 28, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: Fallon's the heir apparent, but does the succession make sense?

Today's column looks skeptically upon NBC's plan to have Jimmy Fallon replace Conan O'Brien when Conan replaces Jay Leno next year.

28 comments:

Grim said...

I actually think, to be successful, that Fallon is going to have to change it up a bit. I have a feeling it won't be a typical late-night show, but more of a variety show, playing to Fallon's strengths. I don't think, from what I have seen of Fallon anyway, that he will be able to shoulder a traditional late-night format of Monologue, Banter and Sketch, unless it is going to be nothing more than an interview show (like Carson Daly).

TL said...

How did Fallon do when he hosted the MTV awards a few years back? I didn't watch it.

Anonymous said...

I have seen nothing from Jimmy Fallon that makes me think this is a good idea.

Jaynee said...

Aw, poor Jimmy Fallon. I like the guy - I think he's funny and sweet and sincere. So in that regard I see him being a host that all the celebrities like to be interviewed by.

Listen, he can't be any worse than Arsenio Hall, who was (IMO) one of the worst late night hosts EVER.

I'm actual partial to Craig Ferguson. I wish HE'D get a shot at a pre-midnight show. But I'll still watch Jimmy if he's given the job.

Eric said...

I agree with you that forcing Leno out to Pasture (or ABC) is a New-Coke level mistake (for financial reasons, not creative ones.)

And outside of Fallon's suitability for the job, I think this is an opportunity to redefine what a late-night show is. What NBC should do with the show is design it for TiVo and YouTube. 3-5 minute segments, integrated sponsorships, Fallon as an MC and stoner/hipster ringmaster more than the focus of the show. If any given show produces a piece of web video that gets 1 million views over the next week, consider it a success. Surround Fallon with a repertory company of writers and performers and use it as a training ground for SNL. Give 5 minutes a night over to UCB.

aml said...

Why Fallon? Why not Walken?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why losing Conan was considered an unacceptable loss, but losing Leno was okay. Especially because Leno is a lot more likely to find a new home with a competitor than Conan is.

Andrew said...

Prior to his most recent contract renewal, ABC was said to have made overtures to Conan to host an 11:30 show. To protect the Tonight show in the near term, NBC offered Conan a new contract with the stipulation that he would ascend to hosting the Tonight Show in 2009.

Matt said...

They were going to lose either Leno or Conan anyway, and while IMHO they made entirely the right choice from a creative perspective, they made the wrong one from a financial one (especially now that Ferguson is beating Conan pretty regularly).

The irony is that by trying to set up an orderly succession to avoid the Letterman/Leno mess, they may have created an even bigger one.

That First Andrew said...

I think this is a good thing.

We get rid of Leno, and his lazy-ass Mistakes From A Newspaper brand of humor. Conan is on earlier, so I don't have to come into work half dead when I stay up to watch him. And Jimmy Fallon is no longer available to make movies or dance spastically with Parker Posey because of a mutual love of Pepsi.

Everyone with a decent sense of humor wins...

Bobman said...

It's a good thing only because now I no longer have to worry about being sucked into staying up late just to watch Conan. No way am I ever going to be sucked into watching the asshat that is Jimmy Fallon.

People talk about Leno being "lazy" (even though nothing could be further from the truth) and gloss over the fact that every one of Fallon's bits seem thrown together with no real effort put into the characters he does. How that will translate to late-night I have no idea, but it doesn't bode well.

Mallory said...

This has nothing to do with Fallon replacing Conan, but I absolutely LOVED The Barry Gibb Talk Show on SNL. Timberlake and Fallon have return to SNL pronto to do another skit.

Steve B said...

I couldn't stand Fallon on SNL, mostly because he is the only castmember in history to laugh at every skit he was a part of. That being said, I have a feeling he would be much better at hosting a late-night show. He's a nice guy and people seem to like him.

It won't matter to me anyway, as CBS currently has much better late-night offerings than NBC. Letterman beats Leno hands down and I've come to love the job Ferguson does afterwards. His is such a refreshing take on the late-night show.

Adam said...

I have seen nothing in Fallon's career that suggests the intelligence or wit to survive as a talk-show host. Why not Chelsea Handler?

Nicole said...

I really didn't watch SNL very muuch during the Fallon years, so I really don't recall anything he's done except bust out into laughter with Horatio Sanz. I can't see him being any good, why is Lorne Michaels still attached to this? He's clearly been out of touch with what's funny for a long time. Even if they do scrap the format and make it a sketch show, Fallon still isn't very good at that. I would much prefer someone like the psycho fangirl from Flight of the Conchords or someone else with actual talent.

J said...

I'm in his corner, but has Ferguson really been beating Conan consistently? I thought he did so for the very first time a couple weeks ago, and there were mitigating factors.

What makes the future NBC shiftings look even more dubious is that the writing on O'Brien's show seems to have plummeted. I've always found him an uncomfortable performer (not a night goes by where he's not missing Andy Richter), but the writing's been the saving grace. I flipped over when Ferguson was in reruns and there was... nothing. Even a "Year 2000" with Richter totally bombed. Yikes.

Not that I find Leno bearable on any level. Lord help us should Letterman actually retire.

Brian said...

"Why not Chelsea Handler?"

I thought the same thing. I've only seen her show a handful of times, but every time I've seen it, I've liked it. And every single person who I've talked to, both men and women, who has seen it has liked it. I understand that her show is kind of different from what a traditional late night show is, but that's not a bad thing. The type of show she would do would definitely appeal to the sort of people who stay up that late to watch.

Why not give her the slot, then put Leno on at, say, 7:00? You'd have to get rid of some of syndicated stuff, but my guess is, he'd do better than whatever is offered locally at that time anyway. Then you'd have Leno leading into prime time, Conan leading into Handler, and an interesting line up that works for a lot of people.

Anonymous said...

It should be Zach Galifinakis!

Back me up Alan...

LA said...

How awesome would Will Arnett be?

Anonymous said...

Jimmy seems too ADHD for me to enjoy watching him as himself.

Grim said...

Ferguson doesn't beat Conan 'regularly', he has done it a few times, and not at all for the last few weeks. He will only beat Conan in the ratings if he has a big guest. Though Ferguson normally keeps a larger share of Lettermans audience than Conan does of Leno, but that doesn't tell the whole story.

I'm not convinced Arnett would be any good at all. I'm starting to think that GOB is the only thing he can do that is actually any good. His role on 30 rock is passable, and his personal appearances never show any real wit.

Patrick said...

With all this talk of the NBC people moving from here to there, or jumping networks, how has there been no mention of Jimmy Kimmel? Are his ratings so low that bumping him is an automatic no-brainer? I've avoided late-night for many years, but when the whole writers/no-writers duel started during the strike, I tuned in out of curiosity, only to find that Kimmel was the only one of the five doing anything I actually thought was funny.

j g said...

Referring to the ABC/ Conan angle above- I believe Fox was also interested in O'Brien for an 11pm show as well

Ben G said...

Grim, I assume you haven't seen Arnett's many appearances on Conan because he kills everytime he is on. His appearances are the best thing Late Night with Conan O'Brien has going for them right now, IMO.

Donlee Brussel said...

If Lorne Michaels is picking the person, and he's obviously trying to maintain the college audience that Conan has while strictly adhering to SNL nepotism, isn't the gimme Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island team?

Anonymous said...

Look, I love Conan and always have.

But NBC's strategy should be to get as many people to watch their TV shows as possible. The aging baby boomer demographic is nearing retirement. That means no work the next morning which means more people to watch the shows. And Leno's bland, awful shtick is absolutely perfect for folks like my aunt. Letterman attracts the same demo, is infinitely more talented an interesting than Leno, but doesn't get the audience.

Most people want "safe" before they go to bed at night. They're tired, they're scared of their mortality and they want a light chuckle before they go to work.

Only the college kids and creative types want a challenging laugh before bed.

Fallon completely sucks no matter how you look at it, though.

Anonymous said...

no - the succession makes no sense. i guess they're going for the "pudgy white chicks eating from a tub of ice cream alone at 1am" crowd. dave: the man. ferguson: i like, but dull guests. leno: sucks. and conan: the thrill is gone. 'hahaha he's awkward!!! and soooo white!!!' who cares. the sketches are losing steam. but at least he was interesting when he started, and tried stuff out of the norm - which is what late night *should* be.

so... right-o for the chelsea handler supporters. it's high time the powers that be put a woman on network late night. and tho i rarely catch her e show, & her interview skills are... inconsistent... the skits can be hilarious and she is sharp and interesting... and seems totally dirty. in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Letterman's hiatus from his show a few years ago (while recovering from a heart attack) offered a perfect audition time for prospective guest hosts.

Does anyone remember Vince Vaughan's stint?

He is probably too "big" now to consider a move to late-night TV, but the guy had the perfect timing and personality for the gig.