Tag Archives: The Tonight Show

Read my lips

Jimmy Fallon’s epic “Lip Sync Battle” has left its home at The Tonight Show and now occupies prime time Thursdays on Spike TV.

lip sync batle

The earlier time slot means the segment gets 30 whole minutes, costumes, backup ‘singers’ and dancers and racier trash talk (since it’s on cable). And the celebs are lovin’ every minute. The only thing that suffers?

The actual lip sync.

The celebs have a lot more bells and whistles to contend with, and limited rehearsal time, I would guess. So everything is messier…but who cares?

They’re making fools of themselves to music — just like on Dancing with the Stars — and it is magical.

Aim higher

Jimmy Fallon is hosting this year’s Emmy Awards?  Really?

Has Neil Patrick Harris died?  Is Hugh Jackman on walkabout in Australia?  Have Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin had a falling out?

I mean, Jimmy’s a great guy, and he’s done some funny pieces for his late night show (the “Lost” parody and “Robert is Bothered” to name a few).  But hosting the Emmys?  Have you seen his opening monologues?  The dude is a joke reader, not a comedian.

Last year we had the multi-talented, host extraordinaire Neil Patrick Harris.  This year, we get the stripped-down, laughs at his own jokes, ain’t-ready-for-this-by-no-stretch-of-the-imagination Jimmy Fallon.

The Leno effect strikes again.

That’s right — the Leno effect.  The play-it-safe, middle-of-the-road, celebration of mediocrity-over-humor that Jay Leno has perpetuated in this country.  The ‘less offensive is more desirable than creative’ choice.

We saw how well that worked out at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, now, didn’t we?  (I’ll shut up.)

Thank goodness the Golden Globes had the balls to book Ricky Gervais as its host for the second year in a row.  Of course, they are the Hollywood Foreign Press.  Perhaps they are immune…or have a vaccine.

Lucky aliens.

Funny or die

Congratulations, Team CoCo!

You were the clear winner at the White House Coorespondents’ Dinner last night.  (And Conan wasn’t even invited.)

Yep, even though Jay Leno had the honor of hosting the prestigious annual D.C. event, he proved — once again — that while he may be the safe choice, he certainly isn’t the funny one.

In fact, the critics agree that President Barack Obama had much better timing and material.

Adam Sorensen, reporting on the event for Time, said Leno “started at top speed, rushed his lines, seemed too tied to his notes (no Tonight Show teleprompter) and made little effort to connect with the crowd in any real sense.”  He even called his jokes “pedestrian.”


That’s especially tough criticism for a veteran stand-up comedian.  It’s not like Leno doesn’t have practice.  Seventeen years at “The Tonight Show.”  Five nights a week.

But the truth is, Leno isn’t known for being funny; he’s known for being mediocre.  And last night, he wasn’t facing a half-asleep, middle-American audience.  Some of the smartest people in the country were in that room…and they didn’t laugh at his usual swill.

That’s one death on stage I would have liked to see in person.


There are a lot of wrongs in the world of entertainment.

– The Oscar going to the film or actor who runs the smartest campaign vs. the film or actor who is most deserving.

– Jay Leno returning to “The Tonight Show” after almost single-handedly running NBC into the ground.  (Oh wait, he had help from Jeff Zucker.  Good point.)

– “American Idol” torturing us with weeks of painful auditions.  Just get to the competition already, and let America decide!

But I digress…

Today I do not complain; I only celebrate.  For two great rights have occurred in the entertainment industry.

First, “Modern Family” won Best New Series at the Writers Guild of America TV Awards.

Sure, “30 Rock” and “Mad Men” won “Best Comedy” and “Best Drama” as expected, but seeing the brilliant “Modern Family” get the recognition it deserves bodes well for the years to come.  “30 Rock” may finally have some real competition in this category.

I couldn’t be more happy.

More good news for followers of Twitter’s “Shit My Dad Says.”  It’s being developed for television, and who has been cast as My Dad?

None other than William Shatner.

I would guess he was at the top of the casting wish list, and I can’t think of a better self-effacing comedic actor to do justice to this crazed persona.

See?  Sometimes entertainment gets it right.

(I assume Jeff Zucker wasn’t involved…)

The hook

Comedy requires an innate sense of timing.

So you’d think — by now — Jay Leno — former comedian, current leper — would know that he has seriously missed his cue.  Needs to go.  Couldn’t be less welcome if he had let chili farts in one of the tiny, egg-shaped elevators at the St. Louis Arch.  (Sorry — a couple of personal scars crept into that last illusion.)

NBC asked you to leave, Jay.  And, I’ll admit, they pussied out at the end.  Took one look at that huge, tremblin’ jaw of yours, and just couldn’t do it.  So you stayed, and your new show failed so horrendously in primetime, it pretty much took down the whole network with it.  The affiliate stations, too.  I hear peacocks are endangered now. Live with that.

And tonight, Conan and his staff and his fans become your lastest victims.  To make room for you yet again.  Because apparently, at NBC, there is nothing they like better than a big, fat failure.

You’re a perfect match.

I can only hope that the same audience that found your tired, lame comedy lacking in primetime will reject your recycled “Tonight Show” when you return to late night.  And, more importantly, they will say no to your lack of integrity, your lack of fair play, and your serious lack of timing.

There’s nothing funny about what you did.  There’s nothing funny about what you do.

Go home, Jay.

Late night lunacy

Yes, I smiled when I read the official decree…but only for a moment.

NBC confirmed Sunday that after February 12th, “The Jay Leno Show” will no longer occupy the 10pm time slot Monday-Friday.

If you read this blog with any regularity — and if you do, well gosh darn, thanks — you know I started whining about Leno’s new show as early as September.  So, as far as I’m concerned, it’s about time.  The ratings have sucked, and as a result, the local news programs on the local NBC affiliate stations have seen their ratings slide, too.

And more importantly, Leno’s show was just lazy television programming.  We cry all the time about how reality TV is taking over the airwaves.   Well, having Jay Leno attempt to replicate late night programming for an hour each night in primetime was no better.

NBC tried to save money and placate Jay Leno who — for some reason that completely escapes me — the network has decided viewers can’t live without.

That’s the reason I only smiled for a moment.  The network has decided to put Leno back on at 11:35pm for 30 minutes and slide “The Tonight Show” with Conan on after midnight — when the title no longer even makes good sense.

I hate to break it to you, NBC, but one of the reasons Conan’s ratings took a dive was Jay’s lead-in.  Putting Jay back on in late night isn’t automatically going to fix the problem.  And, if Conan has any pride at all, he will tell you take your 30 minute slide and…well, you get the idea.

Run, Conan, run.  The whole network is crazy!!

Bow out

I don’t watch Oprah.  Never have.

So, I wasn’t aware she had announced plans yesterday to cease production of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” at the end of 2010 until a friend mentioned it later in the day.

Did you realize “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has been on the air for almost 25 years?  Twenty-five years…it seems like only yesterday she took her Chicago show national.  And now she is calling it quits because — as she told the audience — ” it feels right spiritually.”

I respect her for quitting while she’s still on top.  I think the best ones do.  Look at Johnny Carson.  He left “The Tonight Show” and quietly returned to private life.

Or Tom Brokaw.  He left NBC Nightly News in Brian Williams’ capable hands and has gone on to write books and host a special now and then.  He is not as invisible as Carson was, but he has left the day-to-day consciousness of the viewing audience.

But is Oprah really leaving?  Rumor has it she’s shutting down her daily talk show to start a new network where she plans to launch yet another talk show. That doesn’t exactly sound like she’s leaving daytime television.  And it certainly makes a mockery of the tearful speech she gave to her studio audience on Friday.

Oprah’s situation sounds a bit familiar, too.  What is it…oh yeah!  Jay Leno.  He supposedly left “The Tonight Show” to heir apparent Conan O’Brien.  And then three months later — BAM! — he pops up 90 minutes earlier doing a pretty darn similar show, Monday through Friday, on the very same network.  Too bad it sucks.

Why can’t these people simply leave?  Don’t they realize by coming back and doing lame copies of their original work they risk destroying their earlier legacy?

Everyone loves an audience, guys, but be careful — yours may turn on you.