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Fallon wants to have fun as new host of ‘Late Night’



Published: Thu, February 26, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Frazier Moore

NEW YORK — After a bullish staff meeting (which ended with a cheer) and before a wardrobe fitting (strictly suit-and-tie), Jimmy Fallon took time to marvel at how busy he is these days.

“The busiest I’ve ever been in my life,” he tells a visitor to the new “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” offices at NBC.

“It’s SSLqSNL’ times three. Times five. Times 10!” says the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member who, come Monday, will claim the weeknight 12:30 a.m. slot chartered in 1982 by David Letterman, then, in 1993, bequeathed to Conan O’Brien.

As Fallon speaks, he seems to hover more than settle in his chair in his seventh-floor corner office. Happily wired, he notes with amazement that, with so much to do, it’s almost noon — “and the next thing you know it’s midnight and you go, SSLqI hope my wife’s not mad.SSRq”

As if anyone could be mad at Jimmy Fallon! At age 34, he’s puppy-dog enthusiastic, funny and cool in an unassuming way. It’s an engaging blend that kept viewers tickled for six seasons on “SNL,” where he scored with impressions of Jerry Seinfeld, John Travolta and Justin Timberlake, and created recurring characters like Nick Burns, the know-it-all tech-support guy. He has appeared in films including “Almost Famous,” “Taxi” and “Fever Pitch.”

Then, last spring, Fallon was tapped by “Late Night” executive producer Lorne Michaels (his former “SNL” boss) to return to the halls of 30 Rock, this time as host of his own show.

The idea had been broached long before, when he was exiting “SNL,” Fallon says.

“Lorne was like, SSLqKeep in mind that Conan’s gonna need a replacement in 2009.’ This was in 2004. I said, SSLqI don’t know.”’

Now Fallon is clearly putting his stamp on the venerable “Late Night” franchise. His house band is the acclaimed hip-hop group The Roots. Running the show is veteran “SNL” producer Michael Shoemaker, who handled “Weekend Update” when Fallon was co-anchoring.

2008, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


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