NBC late-night stars Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon — the former battling to save his job and the latter being groomed for it — got together to produce the ultimate “commentary” on NBC’s “Tonight Show” turmoil.
The bit was a lavishly produced bicoastal duet, sung to the tune of “Tonight” from “West Side Story” — and it aired as a transition between the end of the L.A.-based “Tonight Show” Monday night and the New York-based “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
This incredible production portrayed the two hosts as friends (or at least friendly enough to collaborate on this unprecedented coast-to-coast comedy bit) at a time when they’re being depicted in the media as bare-knuckled rivals for a position that is arguably the top job in all of television.
The bit linked “The Tonight Show” to “Late Night” in a way that we had never seen before — a jointly produced segment that opened backstage at the “Leno” show with staffers concerned about what they’re reading in the papers about Fallon. It then moved to Fallon’s office in New York, where he was reading the very same stories and contemplating the future.
And that was when he received a surprise cellphone call from Jay …
They then commenced their “duet” with lyrics such as: “Tonight, tonight, who’s gonna host ‘Tonight’?” sung by Fallon, and “Tonight, tonight, I’ve got Fox on the line, or maybe I can take over for Dave!” sung by Leno.
What we really liked about this bit: It was, as you would expect, highly comedic. But at the same time, it was also, in its way, poignant for the way it steered the viewer toward the realization that the plan to replace Leno with Fallon and move “The Tonight Show” from L.A. to New York next year is probably really going to happen.
That change will be huge — not only for the millions who have been accustomed to watching Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” for more than 20 years, but also for anyone who has watched “Tonight” since 1972, the year it moved to L.A. and became TV’s most legendary show.
Meanwhile, Leno continued to joke about NBC in his monologue on Monday, even opening with an April Fools Day joke about his relationship with the network. “Before we get started,” Leno said, “let me say that NBC and I have reached a peaceful, amicable agreement that will be beneficial to both sides … April Fools! It will never happen!”
Later, he had this joke — about the recent succession of Popes: “Well, during his meeting with [new Pontiff] Pope Francis last week, Pope Benedict, the outgoing Pope, said that he would spend his retirement hidden from the world … unless of course he gets a better offer from the Fox Network! Then he might move!”