And, one of his first guests was the First Wookie…err…Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.
Politico.com reports that
The curtain rose this week on a new era of late-night TV — altering the terrain for politicians who frequent the shows and complicating life for Republicans, who have lost their most comfortable seat in front of the camera.
“The whole landscape’s about to change,” Arsenio Hall, the recently reincarnated late-night host, said in an interview. “Jay [Leno] going home is going to change it for a lot of people.”
Jimmy Fallon replaced Leno — who was seen as the one late-night host with a welcome mat out for the GOP — and moved “The Tonight Show” back to New York City after decades in Hollywood. Beyond the location, expect another big departure from Leno: Not nearly as many heavy-hitting political jokes or guests.
Fallon, who is eyed a bit warily by some Republicans, had first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday — they have a chemistry between them — after launching his new show on Monday. He said recently that his show will not be the place to go for in-depth interviews with politicians and candidat
Obama and Fallon’s only foray into politics during her appearance was a pitch about Obamacare’s provision that allows children to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26, with a quick quip from Fallon about the problem-plagued HealthCare.gov finally working.
“(The website is) working now. It’s so much better when it’s working,” Fallon said.
As part of the new late-night lineup, Seth Meyers is taking over Fallon’s old spot on “Late Night,” and the former “Saturday Night Live” head writer has said he does plan to focus on politics. In fact, Vice President Joe Biden will be one of his first guests on Monday, when the show debuts. Meyers and his team declined an interview request.
With the 2014 midterms not far off and the 2016 presidential cycle already in motion, a seat on a late-night host’s couch is an important place for politicians who are looking to soften their image, reach a young-ish audience and prove they have a sense of humor like any average Joe.
But there will definitely be less pure politics without Leno, experts said. While Leno and “Late Show” host David Letterman have relied heavily on politics in their monologues and had many politicians on as guests, Fallon turns political only when there’s a story so big it can’t be ignored, said Robert Lichter, director of Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University and the author of the forthcoming book “Politics Is a Joke: How TV Comedians Are Remaking Political Life.”
“[Johnny] Carson initiated political humor on late night, but Leno put it on steroids,” Lichter said. “Leno always told far more political jokes than anyone else. With folks like Fallon and others, you’ve got political humor when something big happens … so, for Fallon, politics is just one of many areas. For Leno, it was a major part of his arsenal.”
Fallon’s slimmed-down diet of politics may not be a bad thing, said Erik Smith, Obama’s senior adviser for advertising and message development during the 2008 and 2012 campaigns. As opposed to what Smith called a “sense of cynicism” toward politics that Leno and Letterman exhibit in their monologues, Fallon’s skits and stunts — like the “slow jam” — bring out a softer side of a candidate and are more likely to go viral.
Brent Bozell and Tim Graham, in their column at newsbusters.org, disagree…
The Obamas have had few more obsequious media allies than NBC’s Jimmy Fallon. Now that he’s taking over the hallowed ground of “The Tonight Show,” Fallon’s proven ability to spread his reach into viral videos on YouTube promises to become even more politically potent.
Fallon’s Obama-friendly sketches and interviews have become immediate “news” grist for the Comcast corps at NBC and MSNBC. The same sensation happens when Fallon is ripping into a Republican.
Just as NBC and MSNBC were tearing Gov. Chris Christie apart over “Bridgegate,” Fallon joined this political crusade by bringing on liberal rock star Bruce Springsteen for a jokey version of the hit “Born to Run.”
Fallon and Springsteen sang clumsy lyrics that Christie was “killing the working man who is stuck in Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee, New Jersey traffic jam.” The YouTube video went viral, while the media played it up as another nail in the coffin they were building for Christie’s career.
The NBC press agents are trying to paper over Fallon’s political tilt. A Parade Magazine profile on Feb. 16 oozed that Fallon “persuaded Brad Pitt to yodel, President Obama and Mitt Romney to ‘slow jam the news,’ and Tom Cruise to crack raw eggs on his noggin.” But why pretend?
In 2012, Fallon’s “slow jam” with Obama featured the president trying to sell his allegedly wonderful plans for college loans, and Fallon followed up by uttering in a low voice, “Awww yeah. You should listen to the president. Or as I like to call him, the Preezy of the United Steezy.”
After Obama trotted out campaign attacks against Republicans, accusing them for raising interest rates on students to keep taxes low for billionaires, Fallon added: “Mmm, mmm, mmm. The Barack Ness Monster ain’t buying it.” Singer Tariq Trotter then sang in tribute: “He’s the POTUS with the mostest!”
Fallon ended this spectacle later by stating the ridiculous: “We don’t take sides politically on this show.” It’s worse than that. Obama invited himself. Fallon excitedly described on “Today” afterward how “the White House called us” about doing the skit. Matt Lauer asked: “He booked himself on your show?” Fallon gushed: “The president booked himself.”
Try to imagine a conservative Republican attempting to pull this off.
Indeed. They would not stand a chance.
Being the “old codger” that I am, I remember Johnny Carson very well. Johnny had a natural, easy-going Interview Style, which allowed him to talk to anyone on his show, from a 7 year old to Movie Stars.
And, while Carson skewered BOTH political parties in his monologues, he never brought up his political affiliation on the show. He felt that if ehe invited politicians on the show, that would turn off his viewers, as they tuned into his show at the end of a long, hard workday, to be entertained, NOT PROSELYTIZED TO.
And, that will ultimately be this latest version of the tonight show’s downfall. If people want to watch shomeone suck up to the Democratic Party, they can tune in to Letterman or Jon Stewart or, if they are really desperate, MSNBC.
Each host of the Tonight Show brought something to the table. Steve Allen both comedy and musical ability. Jack Paar brought urbane sophistication. Johnny Carson brought masterful comedic timing and Midwestern “Aw, shucks” feel to the show. Jay Leno, was the “Everyman”…the wisecracking guy next door, whom you could find on the weekend with his head stuck under a car hood. And, Conan O’Brien brought…err…umm…never mind.
So, what will Jimmy Fallon bring?
If he tries to be a younger version of Letterman, he won’t be around long.
Until He Comes,