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2012 Emmy nominees: Jimmy Fallon, Mr. Nice Guy
Leading up to the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, airing on Sunday on ABC, Hudson Buzz will preview the Emmy races that feature stars with hometown roots. Today, Newsday Westchester dissects Jimmy Fallon's late-night run. And, if you missed it, check out our coverage of the region's Emmy-nominated rising stars and leading ladies.
Happy 38th birthday to former Saugerties resident Jimmy Fallon, who certainly wouldn't turn down another Emmy Award as a present this Sunday.
Showbiz can be a cut-throat industry, and the late-night wars that have brewed in the past 30 years are no exception. In the early '90s, it was North Salem resident David Letterman sparring with New Rochelle native Jay Leno in a battle to claim the "Tonight Show" chair Johnny Carson left behind. In more recent years, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Kimmel also watched their friendships with Leno crash and burn.
But when it comes to Letterman, Leno, O'Brien, Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart or Craig Ferguson, Fallon is always happy to be, well, happy. He's Mr. Nice Guy, and it's working for him.
Of course, it helps to be funny, too. One reason Fallon has found his footing since his late-night talk show debuted in March 2009 is Westchester resident Michael Shoemaker, an Emmy-winning "SNL" writer-producer who spent more than 20 years there before helming "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Shoemaker's behind-the-scenes contributions also aided Fallon when he hosted the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards, the 2005 MTV Movie Awards and last year's Emmy ceremony.
Every late-night show has a tough time creating an identity, solidifying its audience and hitting a groove. Adding The Roots to the mix gave Fallon instant credibility among music aficionados, and while his initial interviews were a bit stilted — booking the notoriously terse and pithy Robert De Niro as the first guest didn't help — the show has thrived over time. Goofy bits ("Head Swap," "Let Us Play with Your Look"), games with guests ("Password," charades, beer pong) and the weekly Thank You Notes segment have resulted in true buoyancy.
Fallon is already feeling golden: He won a Creative Arts Emmy this weekend for hosting "Saturday Night Live," the show that had made him a household name. And his "Late Night" blog has won multiple Creative Arts Emmys since the show launched. This is the second time "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" has been nominated for Best Variety, Music or Comedy Series. He'll face incredibly stiff competition from his friends at "The Colbert Report," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," "Jimmy Kimmel Live," "Real Time with Bill Maher" and "SNL." "The Daily Show" has won this category for nine straight years, and in an election year, there's no reason to believe that'll change in 2012.
But it may not be long before Fallon, Shoemaker and company have the last laugh. And if what we've seen from Fallon remains true, he'll be laughing with his competition, not at them.
Tomorrow, Newsday Westchester will look into the TV stars who also know a little something about being movie stars. In the meantime, vote in our late-night talk show poll below, and check out these three videos of Fallon's return to his childhood home of Saugerties — posted mere months before he began his run as a late-night host.