Pop Culture

Seth Meyers: 'I owe a debt of gratitude' to  Fallon

If Seth Meyers ever needs any quick advice when he takes over as host of “Late Night’’ for Jimmy Fallon next year, he won’t have to go far to get it.

“The most exciting thing for me is that the guy who had the job before me will still be in the building as a friend, somebody I can pick up the phone and call,’’ Meyers told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Thursday.

“(Fallon) is pretty close to No. 1 on the speed dial. I think No. 1 on speed dial is programmed throughout the building to be (executive producer) Lorne (Michaels).”

The two are set to begin their new gigs as the hosts of "Late Night'' and "The Tonight Show" in February of 2014 around the same time NBC kicks off its coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Just like Fallon, Meyers has ascended to host of “Late Night’’ after serving as the “Weekend Update’’ anchor on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I think I owe a debt of gratitude to Jimmy for having gone from ‘Update’ to ‘Late Night’ and having shown it's a nice progression, so I'm very happy to be doing it,’’ Meyers said. “I think if you sit at that ‘Update’ desk, you learn how to talk about topical things, and certainly with the guests you learn to talk to crazy people. Although when you do late night, they're real crazy people as opposed to Bill Hader pretending to be one.”

Lauer was recently on “Late Night’’ and joked that Fallon told him Meyers had been sending Fallon threatening letters that he was coming for Jimmy’s job on “The Tonight Show’’ next.

“I just want him to know that's what history has borne out over the years, so it would be foolish not to think that I won't at some point be gunning for him,’’ Meyers joked.

Michaels will executive produce both shows in addition to Saturday Night Live, where Meyers has been a cast member for 12 years. Meyers will remain on SNL in the fall as the “Weekend Update’’ anchor before moving on to his new job next year.

“I'm nowhere near emotionally ready for (this) Saturday to be my last show,’’ Meyers said. “I wouldn't be able to handle that.’’

With about nine months before he takes over “Late Night,’’ Meyers is still formulating what the show will be like.

“It's very strange to get a job that doesn't start for 8-9 months,’’ he said. “I think we'll do a lot of talking about it, but I think it'll be one of those things where the first show you do, you're going to learn a thousand things you didn't know yet.”

Meyers will become the fourth host of “Late Night’’ since it debuted in 1982, following in the footsteps of David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Fallon.

“It's weird because my dream was SNL, so I'm one of those unfortunate people that now I'm just playing out the string,’’ he joked. “I had my dream come true. I was just trying to find a job that had health insurance until the end of it.”

Meyers will also have a new work schedule after he leaves SNL, where late nights writing on Tuesdays often turn into early Wednesday mornings while TODAY is airing.

“I can't imagine it's less grueling,’’ he said. “The thing this will have less of than SNL has is the crazy late nights. My favorite thing is when you guys (on TODAY) have a band. We want to open up the windows and go 'People are trying to work!'’’