With the debut of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon arriving February 17th, and Late Night with Seth Meyers coming a week later, NBC has begun promoting the transition in earnest. It’s first major spots for the two shows premiered over the weekend, and the relatively banal one for The Tonight Show has prompted Variety on a slow news weekend to accuse NBC of “rewriting history.”
The promo for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon talks about the tradition of the show, and in presenting its history of hosts, NBC is not recognized for featuring a brief second of Conan O’Brien, but slammed for not acknowledging the ugliness in the Leno/O’Brien/Leno transition. As Variety writes:
In surprising move (italics my own), Peacock acknowledges short-lived Conan O’Brien period, but avoids mention of Leno’s two runs behind desk … In a promo unveiled Saturday evening, the Peacock depicts Fallon as the latest in the decades-old program’s line of memorable hosts. A succession of graphics lists the famous names: Steve Allen. Jack Paar. Johnny Carson. Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno. … The problem? Leno hosted the show before O’Brien did. Indeed, the veteran has enjoyed two separate “Tonight” runs, from 1992 to 2009, as Johnny Carson’s successor, and again starting in 2010, after a General Electric-controlled NBCUniversal attempted to move Conan O’Brien into the “Tonight” chair while keeping Leno affiliated with the network by placing him to a 10 p.m. timeslot five days a week.
Oh come on now, Variety. Is it really “surprising” that, in a 60 second promo for Jimmy Fallon’s new show that NBC didn’t stop and explain to viewers that, “Oh yeah, Leno didn’t have an uninterrupted run, because we did some weaselly things because Conan wasn’t working out, and we had to rescue our asses.” The promo is not about that, it’s about Fallon taking over. I was more surprised that O’Brien was mentioned at all. I was not surprised, however, to see that the best joke NBC could find to celebrate Leno was the “dry heat” joke (not just a unremarkable joke, but that “dry heat” joke was a one that Letterman used to make constantly in the 1980s).
Here’s the promo.
There was no fake controversy for the promo for ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers.’ It’s just amiable Seth Meyers being amiable Seth Meyers.
One note on Meyers’ show: According to People, he’s not likely to have a band or a DJ on Late Night, instead focusing more on politics, sports and current events. Sports? That’d actually be a welcome change.