TV Zone

News, scoops, reviews and more from TV land.

Bill Clinton, Jimmy Kimmel discuss Roswell aliens (like, from outerspace)

Children eye a model of an alien on

(Credit: AP)

Good, funny, interesting and somewhat loopy Jimmy Kimmel interview with Bill Clinton on last night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live."  What we learned: the 42nd president says there were no aliens that he is aware of during his tenure, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. My question: If there are no aliens then what the heck is that thing in the Roswell museum? (See above.) Answer me THAT, Mr. President.

(App readers, watch the video here: http://bit.ly/1jEVf95. Unfortunately, this content is unavailable on mobile phones.)

'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' is a month old: Status report

Jerry Seinfeld visits "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy

(Credit: Getty Images / Theo Wargo)

"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" turned one month old Monday, which means party time!

But hold on. Let's settle down. The party must wait.  First, some facts and analysis and critical perspective and quotes. Late night television has changed forever. Has it changed for the better?

To the questions:

So, how is "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" doing?

If the words "spectacularly well" offer a clue, then you have your answer. This launch has exceeded even NBC's expectations, and mine -- an aside offered by someone who has lived through both (and also  covered) the Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien "Tonight" successions...umm, all three of them. 

If numbers tell part of the story -- they almost always do -- then let's get straight to those. Last week, "Tonight" was seen by an average 4.5 million viewers at the regular 11:35 p.m. time, compared to 4.9 million in Jay Leno's last full week on the air.

That was a high-water mark for Leno -- expected for his swan song week. One of the more relevant figures is "Tonight's" performance among viewers 18 to 34 -- Fallon has around a 1 rating, or 700,000 viewers in that age group last week, compared to a 0.7 or 500,000 for Jay in his final, heavily viewed week.

Then, finally, this number: "Tonight" has just less than double the total audience of second-place "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and "Late Show with David Letterman" -- both at about 2.7 million last week.

 Thanks for the math, but what does it mean?

One month in, the math appears to have resolved the single greatest concern that NBC had going in: Would "Tonight/Leno" viewers sample "Tonight/Fallon," then return for more? So far, the answer is yes and yes.

NBC is completing research to determine how many Leno loyalists have remained, but the preliminary read at the network is that many have -- possibly even most of those who refuse to break their habit and have so far found no reason to do so.

This is a key metric because the bottom fell out from under Conan O'Brien's "Tonight" fairly quickly after his June 1, 2009, launch. Yes, this is something an apples-to-carrots comparison. "Conan" launched midsummer five years ago, and "Fallon" had a tail wind (the Winter Olympics).

Nevertheless, this is March -- a huge month for "homes using television" -- and Fallon's figures are holding up.

What is the age of Fallon's viewers?

The average age is 54, or five years younger than Leno's viewers, and "Late Show's," which is now the oldest audience in late-night TV. It's also a year younger than Kimmel's average. 

Just to restate the obvious, youth rules in late night, or at least rules with advertisers -- a key reason Fallon is now host of "Tonight.' But the relative youth of Fallon's crowd indicates that his "Tonight" has actually added new viewers to the mix. Leno's "Tonight" was doing the exact opposite -- losing them.

What does NBC think?

Ted Harbert, NBC Broadcasting chairman, said in a recent interview, "I have an odd relationship with A.C. Nielsen, and deep in my heart get superstitious [when predicting ratings]. I thought we could run the table with both Jimmy and Seth [Meyers, whose 'Late Night' is also doing very well], but we didn't think it would be this high.

"My read is that we kept who we had and added more [audience], which is hard to do in any day part. That's what makes this so fascinating. It seems too early after a month to make any big general statements, but this could be one of those rare game changers where people have caught on to this guy."

Harbert -- a TV veteran and former chief of ABC Entertainment during its glory days -- says credit is due, beyond Fallon and his team, to "Lorne [Michaels], who has set this network up to be flush in late night talent."

What does the Newsday critic think?

Fallon's "Tonight" is excellent -- superior to Leno's "Tonight" (sorry, Jay, but true). Most of all, the new "Tonight" is refreshing, comfortable and often surprising, which are words seldom heard about late-night TV anymore.

This also feels like a show that knows itself -- knows what it wants to say, and how to say it, or at least how to perform it. Almost all key elements click -- the monologue especially, as well as the many sketches that made the hop from 12:35 to 11:35 with Fallon.

What's unexpected is that this really does appear to be the exact same show as Fallon's "Late Night," right down to the curtain (actually, "Late Night's" curtain was a solid blue. Fallon's "Tonight" is two-tone. Plus, that skyline). NBC and Fallon promised the same show, but how many times are promises kept in this business?

Harbert puts it this way: "The mistake we made at this network is that a lot of time was spent telling Conan how his show should change, but [this time we] said, 'You're not going to have the network telling you what to do and screw it up. Just keep doing what you're doing."

Differences, in fact, are subtle but significant: More host cross-chat with Steve Higgins, most of it improvised and most of it funny; more sketch tie-ins with members of The Roots, like James Poyser or Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, AKA Black Thought; and more monologue (but not that much more; Fallon's monologues still appear to run only around seven or eight minutes at most --  a good length for him.)

The guest segments are the weakest element, to date. Fallon's instincts are to perform, not to interrogate, so these can sometimes feel like free-form chats that lead nowhere fast. He tends to be a "fan" of everyone, has his TiVo filled with "all of their shows" or his iPod with "all of their songs."

Jimmy's a nice guy -- we know that -- but he needs to develop a critical distance and perspective. Even a coolness. That's not a bad thing when you are the host of "The Tonight Show" and therefore arbiter, or at least gatekeeper, of pop culture tastes and trends.

Has the late-night landscape changed with the advent of Fallon?

Perhaps the better way to approach this question is with another question: What about Dave?

Letterman turns 66 April 12. He is -- yes -- the second greatest late night talk show host in TV history, and also the second oldest: Johnny Carson was 66 when he retired in 1992.

The rule in television is, just to restate, ironclad -- older audiences mean reduced profits, and with younger crowds at ABC and NBC, there will also be pressure at CBS to lower its average age, by grooming a new generation of "Late Show" viewers with (alas) a new "Late Show" host.

Letterman, who has a contract through 2015, has given no indication that he plans to step aside -- or as he put it to Oprah during an interview a year or so ago:  "When it’s time to go, somebody else tell me. Because I don’t know when it’s time to go.”

No one wants to see Letterman go.

I never want to see Letterman go. He is the greatest, most entertaining, most inventive late-night host in my lifetime. He is Dave. There is no other Dave and never will be. 

That said ... reality is reality. Letterman will be moving along someday.

For whom? Replacement possibilities remain the obvious ones -- and Craig Ferguson is not among them. Because "The Late Late Show" host lost regularly to Fallon's "Late Night," there's appears to little chance he would succeed at 11:35 opposite Fallon again, or so the logic goes.

A shame: Ferguson's "Late Late Show" is endlessly amusing, his monologues funny and his sidekick, Geoff, probably the single finest animatronic skeleton in late-night history.

But still.

Stephen Colbert's contract at Comedy Central ends this year, Jon Stewart's next year. There now appears to be growing industry consensus that Colbert may now be the heir apparent. Is it the CBS consensus? The Colbert one?

By the way, the average age of "The Colbert Report" viewer is 43.

My kicker: Stephen Colbert  could well be the next host of "Late Show."  

And of course, this: We'll see. 

 

Rob Ford gets Kimmeled

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford appears on the ninth

(Credit: AP / ABC / Randy Holmes)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who exhibits questionable judgment with regard to his public appearances (ahem), exhibited especially questionable judgment by appearing on Monday night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." You've no doubt heard he was upset by the appearance, no doubt heard he was badly mauled, no doubt wondered why he would do this at all? 

 Why... Here's an outtake -- one of the offending ones: 

 

Johnny Carson, Jimmy Kimmel, Kevin Spacey...who knows?

Kevin Spacey speaks during the Oscars at the

(Credit: AP / John Shearer)

Rare is the Oscars TV moment that forces you out of a state of non-wakefulness to laugh at something surprising or unusual - but not so rare is the post-Oscars TV moment, or in last night's case, Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscars chat with Kevin Spacey.  Spacey is always good on talk shows, and invariably the host asks him to reprise his Johnny Carson, which is very nearly perfect. Check out this portion of the interview (two minutes in) then go here to see a young Jimmy Kimmel perform on "The Tonight Show." Where, oh where have the years gone?

 

Toronto mayor Rob Ford turns up at Kimmel's post-Oscar bash

Mayor Rob Ford sits during a Toronto City

(Credit: Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Getty Images)

Toronto mayor Rob Ford, around whom an entire late night TV comedy industry has revolved the last six months, found his way to Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscars bash lat night. He will be a guest - also, as if once is not enough - on tonight's "Jimmy Kimmel Live." 

 Here's a clip, plus Kevin Spacey, who tried to enliven a  not particularly lively Oscars last night whenever he was on-camera, as Kimmel's guest...

 

Dumb Starbucks CEO Nathan Fielder on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'

Canadian comedian Nathan Fielder of the Comedy Central

(Credit: AP / Nick Ut)

Nathan Fielder, the CEO of parody company, Dumb Starbucks, was on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" Tuesday night, offering Jimmy -- what else? -- a cold cup of coffee.

Fielder, the host (which isn't exactly the right term but will do in a pinch)  of Comedy Central's "Nathan for You," got quite a bit of publicity after owning up to being the operator behind the Dumb Starbucks cafe that opened mysteriously in Los Angeles.

The real Starbucks was not amused. Fielder insisted his new establishment was protected by something called "parody law" -- don't rush to your law books; there is no such thing -- and Starbucks disagreed. Of interest to NYers -- he has plans, or did have plans, to open a location in Brooklyn (and who knows, Syosset?)

 Fielder's show -- if you have not seen -- is very funny, in fact: He offers the world's worst advice to entrepreneurs, who deploy it -- at their own risk.

 Newsday app readers please go to Newsday.com/TVzone to watch this native of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, try to snooker a guy from Brooklyn.

Jimmy Kimmel dodges Disney topic in Streep interview

Celeb: Meryl Streep School: Vassar College in Poughkeepsie

(Credit: Getty Images)

Jimmy Kimmel had one of the world's greatest actors on last night's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" - and that would be Meryl Streep, there to promote "August Osage County" - but failed to ask the one question that anyone with a computer and Internet access would have desperately liked him to ask: "Meryl, what do you really think about Walt Disney?" 

 Disney: Whom...

Read more »

Meryl Streep on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' tomorrow

Meryl Streep attends a Q&A session following a

(Credit: Getty Images)

Meryl Streep - who sort of body-slammed Walt Disney during the Jan. 7 at the National Board of Review awards ceremony in her speech honoring Emma Thompson - will appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" tomorrow night. 

 Yes..."JKL"...on ABC...owned by the Walt Disney Co. 

 In her speech, she essentially labeled Disney -  who died in 1966 - a gender bigot, possibly anti-Semitic, and so on. Some of the speech was mis-characterized in the subsequent press coverage; you may wish to draw your own conclusions. 

 But it certainly got a lot of people talking...and now...Jimmy. 

 I guess you could call this a "must-watch" interview, right?

Jimmy Kimmel deconstructs Dennis Rodman rant

Dennis Rodman and his team of American basketball

(Credit: AP)

Hey! What exactly was The Worm -- aka Dennis Rodman -- talking about to CNN's Chris Cuomo in that widely seen, even more widely ridiculed, interview from North Korea the other day? What the heck, really?

Well, as it turns out, last night on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," the host figured out what was going on. I think.

(App viewers please head on over to Newsday.com/tvzone to get even more thoroughly confused.)

Jimmy Kimmel's 'Clip of the Year' awarded

Jimmy Kimmel revealed last night that he orchestrated

(Credit: Getty Images)

Now this is what I've been waiting for: Jimmy Kimmel's annual bestowal of the greatest YouTube clip of the year. The show usually gets this one right, based on my own personal research. Watch now for the winner (I won't give it away, but you can probably guess...)
 

advertisement | advertise on newsday

What’s on TV tonight

advertisement | advertise on newsday