PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight” show, which debuts next month with actor Will Smith and U2 as guests, will look familiar to people who appreciate his current work in the time slot following Jay Leno.
Fallon said he doesn’t expect to change his brand of comedy to tailor himself to an earlier time slot. Fallon and his successor at “Late Night,” Seth Meyers, met with reporters Sunday as NBC begins the delicate process of a late-night transition.
“This show has completely changed from when I first started,” Fallon said of “Late Night,” which he has hosted for five years. “I feel like we’ve blossomed into what will become the new ‘Tonight’ show.”
He rejected the idea of changes to make himself more appealing to an older, middle American audience that likes Leno. It’s a delicate subject at NBC, where executives believe Conan O’Brien’s limited appeal doomed their first effort to replace Leno. The executives anticipate Fallon’s light-hearted comedy translating better.
Leno closes his two-decade run on “Tonight” Feb. 6 with Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks as guests. On Feb. 17, Fallon debuts a week’s worth of shows at midnight following NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics. He moves into his regular time slot a week later, followed by Meyers, who has “Saturday Night Live” chum Amy Poehler booked as his first guest.
NBC’s entertainment president, Robert Greenblatt, said he’d like to keep Leno at NBC, perhaps to host regular specials. Fallon said he’s not worrying about whether Leno leaves NBC and decides to keep working in late-night TV elsewhere.
Fallon said he called Leno when he got the “Late Night” job to reassure him he wasn’t gunning for Leno’s gig. He said they have spoken regularly, and he’s taken some of Leno’s advice, most prominently to make his nightly monologues longer.