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Fallon exits 'Late Night, ' headed for 'Tonight'

TV Fallon's Break

NEW YORK (AP) - It's not so much "goodbye" as "on break."

With Jimmy Fallon's departure from "Late Night" on Friday after five years in the host chair, he will be off the NBC airwaves a scant 10 days before coming back as host of "The Tonight Show," which was vacated Thursday by Jay Leno after 22 years.

"I'm really going to miss being on TV at 12:37," Fallon joked in his farewell monologue, noting that his "fierce rivals" have been CBS host Craig Ferguson "and a Veggie-Chopper infomercial."

But if he was overjoyed at his promotion to a slot one hour earlier - and he radiated joy all through the finale (taped Friday afternoon) - at the same time he could hardly keep his tear ducts in check.

"I'm not gonna cry," he vowed early on, "but I'm gonna get really close."

"You got to pull it together," teased his guest, fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum Andy Samberg. "You got to man up."

"'Irish Wuss' was my nickname in high school," replied Fallon.

The 39-year-old Fallon has promised that nothing much will change with his talk-comedy-music formula, except the new time slot and "Tonight Show" title.

But if it's not so big a change for Fallon (or his house band, the Roots, or his announcer, Steve Higgins, who all are coming along), it's a big change for "Tonight," which is returning to New York's Rockefeller Plaza after more than 40 years in Los Angeles, and returning to NBC's Studio 6B, once the home of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson."

To complete this game of musical chairs, Seth Meyers (another "SNL" grad) becomes "Late Night" host starting Feb. 24.

"We're gonna be a great team back-to-back," Fallon said.

During his monologue, Fallon got nostalgic, with a dash of comedy. Since premiering in March 2009, he spun out 10,000 jokes, he announced, all of which he proceeded to sum up as: "Joe Biden needed Obamacare after Anthony Weiner texted Justin Bieber a picture of Chris Christie dating a Kardashian on the Jersey shore with Rob Ford."

More sincerely, Fallon voiced thanks to David Letterman for starting "Late Night," and to Conan O'Brien, its second host, as well as to his viewers, whose support "means the world to me. It makes me so happy."

The hour ended with a big musical number: Fallon on drums and singing the Band classic "The Weight," accompanied by a large ensemble of Muppets.

Then he made his exit from his longtime "Late Night" home, Studio 6A, and strode a few steps down a hallway to his soon-to-be new home. He opened the door to Studio 6B to find a cheering, welcoming throng. Fade out.

It's awaiting him for real in just 10 days.

Join the discussion

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midnightstalker2000 February 08 2014 at 9:41 AM

Let's all check back at the beginning of May to see how much the ratings of The Tonight Show have plummeted since they canned Jay Leno. Let's see if NBC is kicking them self for letting him go.

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xraybrain February 08 2014 at 11:35 AM

nobody will ever really fill Johnny Carson's shoes but I believe Leno came the closest

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1 reply
herbnjosie xraybrain February 08 2014 at 12:00 PM

I think that you are right. Fallon will never be the "Tonight Show" host, has Johnny or Jay. At least Jay made fun of both party of this government. Fallon will not be so candid about the republican.

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therealkatsmell February 08 2014 at 11:33 AM

his slapstick worked on snl.... the tonight show ....is the goodnight show.

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petervanni February 08 2014 at 3:56 PM

I like Fallon, he's very talented, but I loved watching Jay Leno every night, I'll miss him. I'll be getting more sleep from now on.

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1 reply
cbcelmayster petervanni February 08 2014 at 4:29 PM

As will many others.. All they have done is give the same viewers and earlier bed time themselves, and lost the 12:30 crowd who will either go elsewhere or get more sleep too..

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fernandezarthr February 08 2014 at 11:25 AM

....great move NBC, ...now your rating will go down............talk about shooting your foot!....jajajajajaja

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gjohnso627 February 08 2014 at 11:23 AM

He was good on snl but cant shine a light on Leno. He is not late night material no matter what they do to place him on a pedestal. Lacks luster and it will be known very shortly. Wont watch him no matter who is his guest. He will rely on guest to pull him through but at some point he will have to show creativity and a sense of humor which he lacks.

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1 reply
deebeedonny gjohnso627 February 08 2014 at 11:52 AM

I think he can certainly shine a light on Leno. Leno admits that he can't do some things like Jimmy Fallon does. Leno can't sing, dance, do imitations, etc. etc., Some nights Leno was funny, then some nights it appeared he was trying to be funny and making jokes as he went along that didn't fare too well. ...And, i always thought Leno relied on his guests to pull the show through......Many felt that Leno was not late night matierial. The truth, Johnny Carson highly recommended Dave Letterman to be his successor. He strongly suggested to the NBC execs that Letterman is the right man for the job. Letterman's late night show immediately folled the Carson Show and it seemed fitting that Letterman take over carson seat. But, two execs at NBC, one in particular were against Letterman taking over, then later questioned themselves if they made the right decision or not....So, Leno gets the job and on the first night he tookover, his female manager insisited that Leno doesn't pay tribute to Johnny Carson. She said it is now the Leno show.... Leno made a fortune, one of the highest paid entertainers in televsion history. The NBC execs may have been looking for a younger, fresher, more creative person for the show. They tried "twice" the first time with Conan, shich didn't work out, only for Conan who walked away with millions. no one can fill Johnny Carsons shoes, but I think Fallon is the one who comes closest to it....Luck and Success Jimmy, I think you're in it for the long haul.....

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gigi1105 February 08 2014 at 11:17 AM

o god!!!! snl every week night!!! can't stand this little dweeb!!! no wonder abc sucks, the only thing i enjoyed on this network was leno, now i can flush this whole tub of junk along with the ever disgusting al roker, matt and savannah!!!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
cbcelmayster February 08 2014 at 4:19 PM

I am sure Letterman is happy, now that he doesnt need to compete with Jay. NBC is going after the 18-35 viewers..wonder what the advertisers will think when they lose 1/2 their ratings.. NBC screws their own pooch again.. that is why they rank last....

I hope Jay goes to FOX, TNT or one of the others and kills Fallon. Nothing against him but ....

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1 reply
ppaxteny cbcelmayster February 08 2014 at 4:50 PM

FOX cancelling X FACTOR -- could be 1st step in bringing back Jay Leno. NBC is making lots of stupid decisions which is why they do so poorly.

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Oyster February 08 2014 at 4:57 PM

Mr. Fallon appears to be a genuinely nice person and musically talented. But, why would NBC decide to dump Mr. Leno when he still had the #1 rating for his time slot? Apparently NBC loves to discriminate based upon age - no?, what else is it?

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3 replies
mae13rle11 February 08 2014 at 10:51 PM

Silly arguments all........ All the talk shows are taped during the day. What time they slot you in to determines how much revenue the show generates and how much the star gets paid. Ratings will then determine how much the network can charge the advertisers. Doesn't matter much if most of us are DVR ing it anyway. You ever watch Letterman - almost half the entire hour is commercials! DVR your favorite and watch it in your kitchen next morning, sans commercials. Thanks Jay, go have fun and enjoy those cool cars of yours. Life is way to short !!

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