Jimmy Fallon Will Be ‘Starring’ in “The Tonight Show”

For some reason, NBC insists Jimmy Fallon is the new Johnny Carson. In order to make those beliefs clearer, the Peacock Network will change the “with” in The Tonight Show With Jay Leno to “starring” for Jimmy Fallon’s tenure, which conjures up images of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Obviously, Jay Leno’s name will no longer be in the show’s title.

It may seem like an argument over semantics, but NBC changing “with” to “starring” is a big deal because it is symbolic. Bringing “starring” back into The Tonight Show title makes it seem like NBC wants to get away from Jay Leno’s tenure and Conan O’Brien’s already forgotten time as host. However, the network cannot relive the past. In fact, there are several reasons why a show starring Jimmy Fallon is a bad idea.

1. The ‘starring’ comes from the days when late night hosts were considered special and well respected. Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson were pioneers and shaped the way we look at late night talk shows. They were considered guests that were invited into the viewers’ homes. Nowadays, talk shows are just another genre of show.

No one puts any of the current late night hosts on a pedestal no matter how much you like them with the possible exception of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who are the most trusted newsmen in America. The Tonight Show fights (both of them) made sure that the world knew how unlikable some of the hosts are behind the scenes.

2. Jimmy Fallon’s main audience finds the word “starring” to be old-fashioned. When you watch Jimmy, he comes off as a friend, who happens to have his own talk show and throws really cool parties. NBC insistence on using “starring” seems like the network is trying to make it so Jimmy impresses your parents. It is like one of your friends deciding he would really like to be called Mr. Fallon while you’re drinking out of red cups. Not going to happen. It’s just weird.

3. Jimmy himself is young. He cribs more from the Nickelodeon playbook than Johnny Carson or even his idols David Letterman and Conan O’Brien. This is the man who gave us Models and Buckets, which has models various foodstuffs on the contestants, and Rock, Paper, Scissors, Pie, which is self-explanatory. As much as Jimmy admires Johnny Carson, he wants to be his audience’s friend and not the uncle everyone loves, which was never an option for Jimmy from the beginning.

4.  No one is going to use ‘starring’ any way. Everyone will refer to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon as Fallon like they currently call Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, despite that not being the show’s name. People use shortened names when referring to talk shows, which is why you watch Leno, Letterman, Conan, Kimmel, Ferguson, Stewart, and Colbert at night.

It’s been over 20 years and people still think David Letterman’s show is called Late Night with David Letterman because everyone has always called it Letterman unless they are being pedantic. It’s just easier to refer to the show by the host’s name. It’s the reason why Conan O’Brien’s current talk show is simply Conan.

About Allison Lips

I am the editor and founder of "Wait! What's a Dial?". I graduated from Rowan University with degrees in both Radio/TV/Film and Journalism.

Posted on June 20, 2013, in Late Night, NBC, Network Television and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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