Almost a year after Jimmy Fallon was named new host of NBC’s “Late Night,” and 10 days after predecessor Conan O’Brien departed, Fallon was set to make his debut Monday night.
Fallon’s scheduled opening-night guests included Robert De Niro and Justin Timberlake, with Van Morrison his musical guest.
An hour earlier on CBS, “Late Show with David Letterman” was scheduled to kick off some musical excitement of its own: the first of a full week of performances by the superstar band U2. In an unprecedented weeklong booking by “Late Show,” U2 is promoting its new album, “No Line on the Horizon.”
Fallon, a former cast member of “Saturday Night Live” with several films to his credit, has tapped a longtime “SNL” hand, Michael Shoemaker, to be his producer. Co-producer is Gavin Purcell, who ran “Attack of the Show,” the daily Net-centric news hour on cable’s G4 channel.
Lorne Michaels (who used to be Fallon’s boss on “SNL”) continues as “Late Night” executive producer.
The New York-based show, taped Monday afternoon, was not expected to be made available for preview by critics before airtime.
But details and glimpses of the Fallon-era “Late Night” have been shared with viewers in the form of “video blogs” on the show’s website for weeks.
“I know I’m gonna get reviewed off the first show, as opposed to the first couple of months,” Fallon predicted in a recent interview. ” ‘He’s no Conan,’ or ‘He’s no Letterman’ – I just want that to be said, and put out there. Then viewers can relax and watch and enjoy.”
Fallon’s on-air arrival sets in motion a carefully arranged host shift by NBC. O’Brien, who took over “Late Night” from its original host, Letterman, in 1993, is now devoting full time to readying his version of the Los Angeles-based “Tonight Show,” where he will land in June.
“Tonight Show” veteran Jay Leno will return to the air come fall with a weeknight prime-time talk-variety show airing at 10 p.m.