First night a hit for 'Tonight' host Jimmy Fallon

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First night a hit for 'Tonight' host Jimmy Fallon
FILE - This May 7, 2012 file photo shows Jimmy Fallon and his wife Nancy Juvonen, left, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit, celebrating Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada in New York. Fallon says he and his wife had their baby daughter with the help of a surrogate. Winnie Rose Fallon, the daughter of the NBC late-night comic and his wife Nancy Juvonen, was born July 23. Fallon said in a portion of a “Today” show interview broadcast Friday that the couple had been trying for awhile to have a child before succeeding with the help of a surrogate. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Jimmy Fallon (R) and wife Nancy Juvonen attend the 2013 Time 100 Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
FILE - In this April 23, 2013 file photo shows talk show host Jimmy Fallon and his wife Nancy Juvonen at the TIME 100 Gala celebrating the "100 Most Influential People in the World" at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. A representative says Fallon and his wife, Nancy Juvonen Fallon, welcomed a baby daughter Tuesday, July 23. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Jimmy Fallon, left, on stage while Stephen Colbert and the producers of “The Colbert Report” accept the award for outstanding variety series at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Jimmy Fallon presents the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series on stage at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Jimmy Fallon presents the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series on stage at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Jimmy Fallon presents the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series on stage at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Fallon presents the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series on stage at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Fallon, left, on stage while Stephen Colbert and the producers of "The Colbert Report" accept the award for outstanding variety series at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Jimmy Fallon presents the award for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Golfers Tiger Woods, left, and Rory McIlroy right, sit near as television host Jimmy Fallon makes a joke during a golfing demonstration, Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
This June 17, 2014 photo released by NBC shows comedian Kevin Hart, left, and host Jimmy Fallon as they ride the Rockit roller coaster at Universal Orlando in Orlando, Fla., during the taping of a segment for "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." (AP Photo/NBC, Douglas Gorenstein)
FILE - In this March 2, 2014 file photo, Jimmy Fallon, host of "The Tonight Show," exits the icy waters of Lake Michigan during the "Polar Plunge" in Chicago. Fallon was joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the event. Emanuel will now appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon on June 3, making good on his promise after Fallon came to participate in the event. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles, File)
The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon attends the NBC Network 2014 Upfront presentation at the Javits Center on Monday, May 12, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
This March 27, 2014 photo released by NBC shows comedian Joan Rivers, left, with host Jimmy Fallon, during an appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," in New York. Fallon is showing an old photo of Rivers with Johnny Carson, the original host of "The Tonight Show." Rivers, the raucous, acid-tongued comedian who crashed the male-dominated realm of late-night talk shows and turned Hollywood red carpets into danger zones for badly dressed celebrities, died Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. She was 81. Rivers was hospitalized Aug. 28, after going into cardiac arrest at a doctor's office. (AP Photo/NBC, Theo Wargo)
"The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon, right, exits the water during the Chicago Polar Plunge, Sunday, March 2, 2014, in Chicago. Fallon joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the event. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)
FILE - This Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, file photo, released by NBC shows host Jimmy Fallon during "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," in New York. Scores of people dressed in parkas and polar bear outfits gathered along Chicago's lakefront Sunday, March 2, 2014, hoping to catch a glimpse of comedian Fallon when he jumps into Lake Michigan. "The Tonight Show" host agreed to make Sunday morning's so-called "Polar Plunge" with Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a condition for the mayor appearing on Fallon's show in New York, following an exchange of tweets and challenges. (AP Photo/NBC, Lloyd Bishop, File)
Jimmy Fallon poses in the press room at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Melissa McCarthy, left, and Jimmy Fallon pose in the press room at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Fallon poses in the press room at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Fallon poses in the press room at the 71st annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Will Smith during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Stephen Colbert visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Mariah Carey visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Joe Namath visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Jimmy Fallon during "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Will Smith visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Mike Tyson visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Kim Kardashian visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Seth Rogen visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Rudolph Giuliani visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Jimmy Fallon during "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Tracy Morgan visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Stephen Colbert visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Jimmy Fallon during "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Tina Fey visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Lindsay Lohan visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 17: Will Smith visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" at Rockefeller Center on February 17, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Jimmy Fallon and actress Tina Fey on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Announcer Steve Higgins and host Jimmy Fallon during the monologue on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Will Smith, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr., The Edge and Bono of musical guest U2 during an interview with host Jimmy Fallo on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr., The Edge and Bono of musical guest U2 perform as host Jimmy Fallon and actor Will Smith look on on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 4607 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jimmy Fallon during an interview with host Jay Leno on February 3, 2014 -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: Host Jimmy Fallon on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
We're shadowing @questlove today for 1st ever @FallonTonight. Congrats sir! Happy Bday @gingerlynn! #RoxyForever http://t.co/39xAc2mcaH
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Jimmy Fallon with actor Will Smith during the 'Evolution of Hip Hop Dancing' skit on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 19: Host Jimmy Fallon of the television show 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' speaks during the NBC portion of the 2014 Television Critics Association Press Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 19, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Will Smith, Larry Mullen, Jr., Adam Clayton, The Edge and Bono of musical guest U2 during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Will Smith during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Will Smith with host Jimmy Fallon during the 'Evolution of Hip Hop Dancing' skit on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Jimmy Fallon and actor Robert DeNiro on February 17, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Kevin Spacey, left, and Jimmy Fallon arrives at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Jimmy Fallon, right, presents the award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series to Julia Louis-Dreyfus for her work on “Veep” at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
EXCLUSIVE - Jimmy Fallon, left, and Amy Poehler pose at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)
Viola Davis, left, Julius Tennon, center, and Jimmy Fallon arrive at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Jimmy Fallon, from left, Derek Hough and Julianne Hough arrive at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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BY FRAZIER MOORE
AP TELEVISION WRITER

NEW YORK (AP) -- If Jimmy Fallon had already proven he was a natural hosting NBC's "Late Night," he left no doubt Monday that "The Tonight Show" now fits him like a glove.

As promised during the much-promoted run-up to his "Tonight Show" debut, Fallon made no drastic changes to the "Late Night" formula that had served him for five years. He remained funny, gracious, bubbly and, above all, comfortable presiding over a show that was different mostly for its earlier time slot, its classier production values and legendary brand name.

Jimmy Fallon Makes 'Tonight Show' Debut With Historic Celeb Guests

"We can book people from the West Coast?!" he joked at his newfound status.

He did pretty well with his bookings on opening night: Will Smith and the rock group U2.

But all that was ahead.

First, his viewers beheld his new set, boasting burnished-wood paneling and panoramic blue curtains.

They had seen his filmed opening - Jimmy as the New York nightcrawler - shot by director Spike Lee.

They discovered that his band, the Roots, had grown by two from its already husky eight pieces.

Then out he came, to thunderous applause, and planted himself on his mark (a four-leaf clover) to deliver his first monologue.

"I'm Jimmy Fallon," he began, and, with a nod to past late-night turbulence that most recently saw his "Tonight" predecessor, Jay Leno, make an unsought exit, he added, "I'll be your host - for now."

He expressed gratitude for his new gig, introduced his parents in the studio audience, and dispensed love in every direction - and made it sound authentic.

He had a few Olympics jokes, one offering sympathy to NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who was sidelined from several days of Olympics coverage with a blinding bout of pinkeye.

"You could tell he was having trouble when he spent half-an-hour interviewing a mop he thought was Shaun White," Fallon cracked.

Back at his desk, he voiced what seemed like an aside: "To my buddy who said that I'd never be the host of `The Tonight Show' - and you know who you are - you owe me a hundred bucks, buddy."

With that, Robert De Niro burst through the curtain and plunked a hundred dollars on Fallon's desk.

But that wasn't all. In rapid succession, a parade of other celebs circled through right behind him. They included Joe Namath, Rudolph Giuliani, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, Mike Tyson, Stephen Colbert and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Joan Rivers was also among them, repaying her "debt" and making a bit of history in the bargain: 49 years earlier to the day, the veteran comedian had made her first appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in that very studio, and had not appeared on "Tonight" since 1987, when she was banned by Carson after jumping to Fox to host her own short-lived show.

A key part of the celebratory spirit for Fallon was the fact that, after more than 40 years in Los Angeles, he and NBC have brought "Tonight" back to New York and Rockefeller Plaza, where it has reclaimed Studio 6B, once the home of Carson and, before him, "Tonight" host Jack Paar.

If viewers needed visual evidence of "Tonight's" restored New York state of mind, Fallon delivered it with flourish.

From the observation deck atop the G.E Building he occupies, he introduced U2, who, 70 stories aloft, performed a new song, "Invisible," against a magnificent New York cityscape at a perfect moment of dusk. The backdrop was so beautiful you might have sworn it was computer generated, but it was real, as was the bitter cold that had the musicians, and a legion of fans gathered round, clad in heavy winter wear.

But after a commercial break, Fallon and his musical guests were cozy, back in the studio, where U2, seated on the powder-blue couch, performed an acoustic version of their Oscar-nominated song, "Ordinary Love."

It was a fine ending to a much-assured hour.

"I just want to do the best I can and take care of this show for a while," Fallon told viewers. "If you guys let me stick around long enough, maybe I'll get the hang of it."

No worries. For five years on "Late Night" he was getting the hang of it.

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