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Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon show the world that late-night 'battle' is just silly

Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno at the 70th

Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. in January. The two late-night talk show hosts spoofed rumors of Fallon taking over Leno's show. (Jan. 13, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

OK, show of hands -- funny, not funny? Effective or a waste of time? Smart . . . stupid? Hey wait a minute, this is my column, and I'm going with "funny," "effective," "smart."

That would be Tuesday morning's Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon duet that aired between the end of "Tonight" and the beginning of "Late Night" -- an adroit rendition of Leonard Bernstein-Stephen Sondheim's "Tonight" from "West Side Story" -- "Toniiight, toniiight, who's gonna host 'Tonight?' Is it gonna be Jimmy or Jaaaaayyyy . . . "

And so on. It wasn't riotous -- "30 Rock" used to do riotous -- but there is something to be said for getting ahead of your own story, which both Fallon and Leno accomplished, and (in a way) so did hapless NBC.

And what exactly is "this story?" That Jimmy will probably take over a dramatically diminished, no longer-culture-bending "Tonight" in 2014, and that Jay will get a talk show elsewhere. They will make millions. No one will get hurt. Viewers and other assorted organisms with short attention spans -- specifically TV critics -- will forget about this in a few years. Life will go on.

If you can't make fun of that via bowdlerized Bernstein, then what can you make fun of?


With Fallon -- who reportedly has signed a contract extension that ensures a "Tonight" succession -- moving on, who will replace him? The Hollywood Reporter Tuesday said "Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers has nearly been anointed. Challenges to this? Obvious: He's a creative force, and "Weekend Update" anchor, for a show that's seeing a creative (and ratings) resurgence this year. How to replace him there? Good luck with that.

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