Last night on Late Night they kicked off the show with a musical number that joined Jimmy Fallon and his lead-in Jay Leno, the current host of The Tonight Show dueting with the rumored successor. This parody of West Side’s Story’s “Tonight” brought together these two hosts whose names have been so dragged through the news and blogosphere the last few weeks, whose futures have become the subject of much speculation and scrutiny. Leno, from his perch in Burbank, has made no secret of his recent disdain for NBC and its executives; Fallon, like he did during the Leno-Conan controversy three years ago, has done his part to stay out of the fray, trying to stay friendly with everyone and stay as far away from any whispers of backstabbing or plotting as possible. And this sketch goes to show that while Leno might have a considerable beef with NBC brass, he harbors no ill will towards Fallon, and Jimmy, for his part, appreciates all that Jay has done for him.
However, while this bit illustrates that everything may be copacetic between Jay and Jimmy, it also demonstrates why Fallon is so highly regarded and why he’s so quickly being elevated to the top spot. Yes, this is a great piece of television that shows that Leno can still have a great sense of humor about these things and about all things, but by airing on Late Night it only serves to further bolster Fallon and his team’s credentials, once again proving their creativity and passion for the medium, and their keen ability to capitalize on a situation. This was probably the best four minutes either program will air this week, and some of Late Night‘s best work this year (non-Justin Timberlake category), the A+ material on the network’s B show. But the fact that this bit was conceived and produced by the Late Night team and broadcast as part of Fallon’s show offers yet one more reason why Fallon is ready to take over the mantle. It wasn’t quite passing the torch as it was recognizing where the fire is.
Right now, Late Night justs get it. Even Leno agrees.
The plot keeps thickening with the NBC late night situation, and it continued today with the buzz that Lorne Michaels would like to anoint current “Weekend Update” anchor Seth Meyers as successor to Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, just as Meyers followed Fallon behind the Update desk (albeit, with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in the interregnum). However, we think, in this case, Lorne might be making a poor decision.
With sources reporting that Jimmy Fallon will take over The Tonight Show in 2014 it’s only natural to start speculating who will replace him at 12:35am. And, similarly, it’s only natural to start speculating who Lorne Michaels will nominate for that position, as the show is produced his Broadway Video and it was he who plucked Conan O’Brien out of relative obscurity to launch the program in 1993 and who rescued Fallon from near-irrelevance to grab the reins in 2009. So whomever the next tenant of Studio 6B is will probably be chosen by Michaels and will likely come out of his comedy stable. However, while Meyers fits that bill, a longtime writer and cast member on SNL, he might be the wrong guy at the wrong time. He’s just too much in the Fallon mold, and the show would be wise to move in another direction.
More: History should repeat itself, but not exactly…
Justin Timberlake made his triumphant return to Studio 8H this past weekend, delivering the episode that it felt like SNL and its fans had been waiting for all season long. The affair marked Timberlake’s fifth turn as host, inducting him into the esteemed “Five Timers Club” that includes such SNL luminaries such as Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Alec Baldwin and Tom Hanks. In fact, it was during Hanks fifth hosting appearance in December of 1990 (and before fifteen of Baldwin’s sixteen hosting turns) when we first learned about the existence of the exclusive club, with a young Conan O’Brien (going by the alias “Sean”) presenting Hanks with his club robe. For the first time in just over twenty-two years we revisited this VIP lounge this past Saturday night, with Timberlake receiving his robe from another O’Brien, SNL writer and 7 Minutes in Heaven star Mike O’Brien. Martin, Simon and Hanks were once again present, as well as fellow club members Chevy Chase and Candice Bergen (and non-club but former cast members Dan Ackroyd and Martin Short). But shockingly absent from the distinguished proceedings was Five Timer Elliott Gould, who helped initiate Hanks back in ’90. Sure, by that time Gould hadn’t hosted for ten years, and hasn’t in the twenty-two since, but once a Five Timer always a Five Timer, right? In fact, Gould was the third host to join the club (behind Buck Henry and Martin), which essentially makes him a charter member. So why then has Gould essentially been excommunicated from Saturday Night Live? Why has someone who was so instrumental and loyal in those early SNL years become a persona non-grata at the Five Timers Club? Was it his role on Friends? A falling out with Don Pardo? Or, perhaps he and his friends stole from Lorne? Most likely, while fellow club members Martin and Baldwin climb higher and higher into the double digits, we’ll never know why Gould has been away for over two decades, whether by banishment or by self-righteous declaration of independence. No matter what though, they can never take away his pool privileges.
Btw, Lindsay Lohan is one hosting appearance away from joining the club. Should she be tapped for that fifth time, expect stricter membership requirements to follow soon after.
Four days have passed since Lindsay Lohan returned to host Saturday Night Live, and the benefit of time does nothing to portray her performance in any more of a positive light. Yes, in spite of her wooden, stumbling, at times helpless appearance, the show delivered some of its strongest moments of the season (including Bill Hader reaching new levels of brilliance as both Shephard Smith and James Carville, and an inspired, if somewhat haphazardly placed, “Music of the 70s” commercial parody with a retro-coiffed Jason Sudeikis), but those sketches don’t negate Lohan’s awkward struggle, her 90-minute death march, and nor has almost a week of reflection.
It wasn’t always this way. And that’s why this is so sad, so tragic. There was a time when Lindsay Lohan was a bona fide star, white-hot and electric. The next big thing while simultaneously being the “it” the girl. And, yes, she had curves, but she also had talent. Was she a young Jodie Foster? Outside of the freckles, no. But she had something that a young Jodie Foster did not. Sizzle. Sparkle. That special something.
But where does that special something go when it dies?
A little late this week so let’s get right to it:
We get it Gwyneth, you can sing! You already proved it with Country Strong, your appearance on Glee and your CMA performance (and with Huey Lewis in Duets ten years ago). But you had to show us again in your monologue, as Taylor Swift in this My Super Sweet Bar Mitzvah sketch, and by joining meandering songsmiths Kat and Garth on “Weekend Update.’ Listen, Gwyneth, WE GET IT. It’s a wonder they didn’t hold off the “Worst of Soul Train“ sketch another week so Paltrow could play some kind of disco queen. But they probably thought that would be overkill.
Also, Cee-Lo, we get it. You’re a big deal right now. Gwyneth Paltrow covered your hit song, and hugs you and treats you like her best friend. But we don’t need to see the you also singing during the monologue and in the Bar Mitzvah sketch and also appearing in the “Record Label Meeting” sketch that was just a device to introduce your musical performance. What’s that we said about overkill? We mean, c’mon, it’s not like the guy is Paul McCartney. And, sure, we admit, “F*** You” is one of those songs we heard about ad nauseam before we ever actually heard it (much like “Umbrella”), because the only radio we listen to is sports talk and NPR. But it is good, at the very least, it’s dangerously infectious. However, isn’t “F*** You” just like “Hey Ya,” but not as good. Seven years later we still think the former is a great song, not sure if the latter will fare so well in 2018. Will it be a classic or a novelty? Only time will tell if it stands the test of time. But, until then, we could have done with at least one less Cee-Lo appearance.
Read on: Pee-wee plays with fire, Bill Hader gets political, and a hidden meaning to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air sketch
Amy Poehler returned to host the 36th season premiere of SNL this past week, but did it feel like she ever really left? Between her frequent appearances last season on the big show and her stint co-anchoring Weekend Update Thursday last fall she was really on the show as much as Jenny Slate was, and probably more times than Jay Mohr during his brief run (cheap shot, sorry, Jay). She even capped last season by coming back for the famed, Emmy-winning Betty White episode, joining her fellow former female castmates like Tina Fey and Molly Shannon in helping White carry the hosting weight. That episode, the 2nd to the last of the season, felt more like a prime-time special than a regular show (indeed, it was billed as a Mother’s Day edition, but as a result of coincidental timing and to justify bringing in the ringers to support White, who then proved she really didn’t need assistance). And while host-in-residence Alec Baldwin made his annual appearance to close out the season a week later, White’s episode really felt like the big finish. And wouldn’t you know it, SNL felt like it picked up just where it left off, by pulling out the big guns and bringing back the all-time greats, starting with Ms. Poehler herself.
Read on: Parade of Stars: Timberlake, Dratch, Rudolph, Fey, Fallon & Peterson. Also, whom did SNL really rip off?