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First night a hit for 'Tonight' host Jimmy Fallon


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.

Join the discussion

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kennyzeke February 18 2014 at 1:45 PM

I guess he has to surround himself with loads of guests .When can he stand on his own two feet?Is he paying for Michelle Obamas expenses including secret service when she arrives??

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1 reply
RacingIndy500 kennyzeke February 18 2014 at 2:16 PM

Posts like yours are very offensive and from uninformed people, or simple minded oafs just trying to make soneone look bad.. The expenses for high profile government people are there and being paid 24/7 whether those being protected and transported are in public, on a vacation, working or even sitting on the commode.... The vehicles and crews are the same. These support units are not at home in an on call status. They are full time military men and women and government employees working year round and not just sitting around waiting to be called to escort someone in high office somewhere. C'mon, get informed before showing your ignorance to millions of us reading your posts.

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ccurt61 February 18 2014 at 12:05 PM

Please, Jimmy was great. For all you naysayers, where is your talent?

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2 replies
roborose2005 ccurt61 February 18 2014 at 12:35 PM

The comments you object to are viewers' opinions and reviews. I don't think they require a specific "talent," nor do they have to all agree with you.

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HELLO BUTTERFLY ccurt61 February 18 2014 at 4:08 PM

'Our talent' is Jay Leno. Our opinions count as much as yours, and we make no claim to 'talent'. We are among a group of people expressing opinions on a TV show that will no longer be watched by many of us.
What is your problem with folks whose opinions differ from yours? Get out much???

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paakopets February 18 2014 at 12:04 PM

I thought he was very good for his first show! I will definitely tune in tonight. Marge

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foxentco February 18 2014 at 11:35 AM

Fallon seems like a really nice guy and I hope he does well. I'm probably a little old to appreciate his humor. He was great with the hip hop segment but his jokes didn't strike me. The Roots are always great. I was a faithful watcher of the original Tonight Show so the best part of the show for me was the new set. It really brought me back to the Tonight show when it was in New York in that studio. It's contemporary yet harkens back to the original. He should do very well for many years to come, although I don't agree that Jay Leno was ready to be relieved of his duties. After all, this is the second he was to leave with ratings at number one in both demographics, young and old. I don't know, maybe it's me, just doesn't make sense.

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dobuyit February 18 2014 at 11:32 AM

Ain't Kim Kardasian, got one fat, flappy ass? She need's to go to a fat frarm and leave behind about 50 pounds. YUCK, she' heading for the house of horrors and ******!

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1 reply
Judy dobuyit February 18 2014 at 11:34 AM

Why was she even on the show? People are sick of the Kardasian b it ches.

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ffeb1 February 18 2014 at 11:31 AM

That was a important nite for Mr. Fallon and and it went very smoothly. Congratulations . If a early
established Rock Band is needed I would suggest a group that plays the Best of Cream in L.A. Fran Banish, Kofe Baker's son on drums and the bass player may be related to the bass player in the original Eric Clapton Band.

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bjredmond64 February 18 2014 at 11:29 AM

will there ever be another johnny carson? that guy was unbelievably natural. hard shoes to fill, but good luck, jimmy.

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Trish February 18 2014 at 11:06 AM

You make us New Yorkers proud for sure. GREAT JOB

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Gaildancr February 18 2014 at 11:05 AM

Love Jimmy thought he did a great job knew he would no matter what time slot he is in.

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Vince February 18 2014 at 12:10 PM

I still miss Johnny.

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