Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cool It Jimmy!

I took Craig Ferguson's advice. Up to now I haven't reviewed Jimmy Fallon because the guy needs to grow into his job. So far he's a bundle of nerves. 
So what if the monologue just doesn't work most nights? Fallon needs the experience to toss away lines with the aplomb of a Johnny Carson.
And so what if his interviewing skills need refining. All those years on Tonight and Jay Leno still can't do a half decent interview.
That said I feel Fallon will make it in NBC's late late slot. He's nice, he's personable, he's desperately easy to please. Give him time and he'll come around.
I well remember hanging out in Conan's Rockefeller Center's dressing room and it must have been about five weeks since he'd taken over. The critics were unkind to say the least. And Conan always seemed to have Suzanne Somers on as guest because few big names would give him the time of the night.
Still, I told him to hang in there. He was even more nervous than Fallon. Now look what's happening: he's replacing Leno at 11:35. and maybe in the full passage of time Fallon will be replacing him?
Fallon is not much differenn from Craig Ferguson. All late nighters must be suited and must have a desk, a couch (Fallon has two), a nice curtain, a faux panorama, and a small band. I figured sidekicks were out but Conan is actually bringing back Andy Richter when he pops up again from L.A.
So Fallon is yet another button down late night hosts. No woman has ever succeeded at the task although Joan Rivers certainly tried. And Arsenio Hall is the only black artist to give it the big try. 
But it's harder than it looks. Just ask Chevy Chase whose attempt lasted but a nanosecond.
Dick Cavett was around ABC for a bit but he was too arty for late night viewers. And Merv Griffin on CBS was just an afternoon host trying to jump to a more competitive slot. Pat Sajak went back to spinning his supper time wheel. 
A far more pertinent question is why Canadian TV has never mounted a successful late night talk show. 
I used to hang out with Peter Gzowski when CBC tried him out late nights. A huge hit on daily CBC Radio, he was plopped into a suit and sported thick pancake makeup but he never really got the swing of it. Right at the end before cancellation he started appearing as his rumpled self and was suddenly quite good (but it was too late).
Mike Bullard had a run on Comedy and CTV before Global enticed him away. It was his misfortune to start his second series the week Conan breezed into town and blew him away in the ratings. Cancellation quickly followed.
Am I the only one out there who remembers CBC's only successful foray into late night programming? I'm referring, of course, to the wonderful comedy revue series Nightcap with Billy Van.

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