When Jimmy Fallon becomes the eighth host of NBC’s venerable “Tonight Show,” the show’s title will drop the current “with” and add a “starring” to officially become "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” It’s the first time since Johnny Carson retired that a successor has included the word “starring” in the title.
Fallon has his reasons.
“We were looking at the different logos, and I was, ‘Well, it was ‘The Tonight Show Starring’ it was always ‘Starring Jack Paar,’ ‘Starring Johnny Carson,’” Fallon said at a press conference at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. on Sunday. “Then when Jay [Leno] took it over, no one talked about it, but all of a sudden it was ‘with.’ And it’s fine that it’s “with.” But “with” is I mean, this “starring,” it makes it more like it’s show business. It’s glamorous. It’s Hollywood. It’s kind of fun. I like ‘starring.’”
“Saturday Night Live’s” Seth Meyers, who will take over for Fallon to host “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Feb. 24 said he’s “happy with the ‘with’” in his title at a separate press conference.
“Originally, we were going to go, “Late Night. Seth Meyers Is Also There,” he joked.
Fallon’s first guest will be Will Smith and his first musical guest will be U2. Meyers will make his debut with former “SNL” alum Amy Poehler.
Fallon, who is moving the show back to New York City to Studio 6B at Rockefeller Center, said that convincing NBC to move the show to its city of origin wasn’t easy.
“For me, it kind of wasn’t a real option,” he said. “I was born and raised in New York. I live in New York with my wife, and we now have a little six-month-old-baby, and she’s very cute…It’s just a beautiful city. I think of New York, I think of nighttime. I just think it’s the perfect place, where it should be. I think of the lights and Times Square and Broadway and nightlife and the excitement and the glitz and the glamour of all that is ‘The Tonight Show.’”
Fans can expect his same offbeat style in the earlier time period, though his monologues will double in length, he said.
“I wish that Steve Allen and Johnny Carson were still around just to see what we’re going to do with the show because I think, when they invented this show, it was all about being fun and silly and goofy,” he said. “Everyone works too hard, and we’re the first thing after your local news. You watch us, and you get a good laugh, and you go to bed with a smile on your face. And that’s our job.”
Meyers said he will approach his new show in the same way he has crafted Weekend Update for “Saturday Night Live.”
“That’s sort of the creative DNA we hope to bring to late night,” Meyers said. “As far as guests go, we want it to be not just creative people in the showbiz world, but we’d also love to have authors, politicians, athletes. We don’t want to commit too hard to the sort of guest list we are going to have, but we are open to everything and hopefully can get interesting people on not only that the audience knows but that the audience can get to know.”
The legacy of late night, Meyers added, “is you get to do weird things. People are a little more patient with it, and that’s going to be fun to try to mess around with that.”
Although he knows he’s landed a dream job, Fallon said he actually never fantasized about hosting “The Tonight Show” because “I didn’t know this was a job I could dream about.”
“It means a lot to me,” he continued. “It’s surreal and it’s an honor. I don’t want to let anyone down. I’m a big fan of television.”