Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
After 42 years in Los Angeles, The Tonight Show finally returns to New York, when Jimmy Fallon officially takes the venerable show's reins from Jay Leno. "I can't even begin to describe what we are all feeling right now here at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NYC," he wrote on Instagram earlier today. "But I know that we'll never have this exact feeling ever again," Fallon added. "By this time tomorrow we'll no longer wonder what it would be like to do the Tonight Show."
Joining Fallon on tonight's premiere will be Will Smith and U2, just the first of what promises to be a start-studded opening-week lineup, which also includes Jerry Seinfeld, Kristen Wiig, Lady Gaga, Will Ferrell, Michelle Obama, Arcade Fire, and, of course, Fallon's BFF Justin Timberlake, who'll close things out on Friday.
As for what we can expect from the new show, Fallon has promised not to stray too much from the formula that made his run as Late Night host so successful. That means more viral-friendly fare, including off-beat skits, elaborate pop-culture parodies, audience and guest participation, and, of course, the musical numbers that have made Fallon late-night television's most versatile host ever. And, what would the show be without the prodigal house band The Roots and Fallon's sharp-witted sidekick and announcer Steve Higgins? We, fortunately, won't have to find out, as both will be joining him in the brand-new studio.
As for what that studio might look like, details have been closely guarded, but with a major increase in budget, expect NBC to pull out all the stops. But, the studio isn't the only thing that's getting supersized. On advice from Leno himself, Fallon has promised to extend the all-important opening monologue closer to the 10 minutes practiced by his predecessor. The final and most noticeable change will appear on the marquee, as Fallon opted to go with "starring" instead of "with" in the show's title, an homage to former Tonight Show hosts Steve Allen and Johnny Carson.
That, you can be sure, will be the only nod to the past for Fallon, who seems ready to usher late-night television firmly into the future.