Discounting the significance of the day (Sept. 11), or the significance of the network (NBC), there's nothing insignificant about Donald Trump's first visit to a major late-night since his improbable White House run began: He'll be on "The Tonight Show," just as Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" is getting underway.
NBC has announced, saying Trump will appear on an edition with Terrence Howard of "Empire" and man-in-the-hat pop superstar Pharrell Williams.
In fact, in announcing next week's guests, "Tonight" is re-affirming its own specific intentions and identity, just as "Late Show" did again Monday -- with second-week guests ranging from Bernie Sanders to a Supreme Court Justice to Emily Blunt -- and Tuesday -- when Joe Biden's Sept. 10 appearance was announced.
Fallon may have nailed down the most sought-after guest of the political season so far, but his top-viewed "Tonight" is also doubling down on stars -- the bigger, the better, and the more mainstream the music the better too. While Colbert, for example, is opting for TV on the Radio -- good band, sure -- Fallon has Carrie Underwood.
Jessica Simpson on "Tonight?" Colbert has a British actress fanboys swoon over, and who also happens to be married to John Krasinski...
Richard Gere and Justin Timberlake are also arriving on "Tonight" next week -- Timberlake and Fallon, of course, are a dynamic duo in their own right, with their History of Rap series.
Trump, as everyone knows, has been on "Tonight" a few times -- nine to be exact -- but I do believe this will be his first time on Fallon's "Tonight." (He was on Fallon's "Late Night" seven times). And for reasons known only to Dave (and his producers) and Trump, the GOP frontrunner was a longtime favorite of "Late Show with David Letterman:" A total of 26 times, making "Late Show" his favorite late-night destination over the decades.
The former "Apprentice" host was on "Today" as recently as July, and had a phoner with Matt Lauer last week -- so all that bitterness appears to have turned into water under the bridge. Or as Trump might put it: Hey, business is business. He's got a campaign to run -- no reason to sever ties with that "Today/Tonight" hegemony, even if NBC DID fire him and sell its stake in Miss USA.
During a recent press tour, Colbert did affirm his desire to have Trump on the program -- but Trump decided otherwise, at least so far.
The lineup (and as a reminder -- Monday's a holiday, while Colbert begins his run on Tuesday):
Tuesday, Sept. 8 Richard Gere, Jessica Simpson, Keith Urban
Wednesday, Sept. 9 Justin Timberlake, Ellen DeGeneres, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Thursday, Sept. 10 Andy Samberg, Carrie Underwood (talk and musical performance).
Friday, Sept. 11 Donald Trump, Terrence Howard, Pharrell Williams