[03/12/11 - 12:06 AM]
Live at the Paley Festival: NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon"
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

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7:05 PM - Night seven of the 28th Annual Paley Festival at the Saban Theater in Los Angeles kicks off with a panel devoted to NBC late night host Jimmy Fallon.

7:10 PM - The Paley Center's Betsy Scolnick welcomes the crowd by talking up Jimmy's six years on "Saturday Night Live," his movies, viral videos, Emmy hosting gig and, of course, "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."

7:13 PM - Tonight's moderator is Chris Hardwick and Betsy references his gig hosting MTV's "Singled Out" as well as "Web Soup" in Chris's introduction. Hardwick comes out and says, "Let's just get this out of the way that I did not ask for 'Singled Out' to be brought up. It was an awkward moment for all of us." Chris goes over a condensed version of Jimmy's life up until March 2, 2009 when his late-night show went on the air. We're then treated to a fantastic clip collection (the first of many clips we'll get tonight) that revs the audience up for the panel.

7:21 PM - Chris welcomes Jimmy to the stage and, of course, a standing ovation happens, which truly seems appropriate. [Chris and Jimmy know each other well, which is obvious, and their playful banter makes for a fun ride during this entire panel. Jimmy has also tweeted about tonight's event and that 'Ben & Jerry might come with.' We'll see if that's true...]

7:23 PM - How did Jimmy get started in the business? When he was just starting stand-up, Jimmy did impressions of different celebrities with a troll doll. For example, Cosby talking about a troll doll (Jimmy does a damn good Cosby!) as well as Jerry Seinfeld. Jimmy studied at The Groundlings and then during his first Saturday night doing stand-up at The Improv, who should walk in but Jerry Seinfeld (the year is 1996). Big laughs when Jimmy says he went out to call his mom on the pay phone and Chris makes fun of the ancient machine known as the pay phone. Back to the story, Seinfeld did a set before Jimmy and killed. Jimmy says, "I'm sweating and I have my troll doll." Jimmy didn't do great... until he started doing his Jerry Seinfeld impersonation.

7:29 PM - Jimmy did not get hired on "Saturday Night Live" when he first auditioned. "They wanted someone black," says Jimmy, who reveals that Tracy Morgan got the job that year. When he did land the "SNL" job, everyone - including the make-up artist - told him "Lorne [Michaels] doesn't laugh."

7:32 PM - After six years on "SNL," he decided to leave because he was still friends with everyone and "I wanted to leave at peace with the show." He says Lorne mentioned Conan was going to take over for Leno down the line and they'll need someone else in late night. Funny how things work out, huh?

7:34 PM - "The movies didn't work out," Jimmy humbly says about leaving "SNL" to try a film career. Jimmy now realizes he's sweating a lot and a stage assistant brings him out some napkins. Chris yells "Towel boy!"

7:37 PM - Another reason to love Jimmy - he hires writers by talent, not resumes. Lots of women on staff, too! "We had the most women on any late night talk show," he says proudly.

7:40 PM - Jimmy talks about having one of the first shows to embrace social media's Twitter. In the beginning of his show, Jimmy said "If we get 300 followers before the show starts, that's 300 more people!" Now, two years later, Jimmy has over 3.5 million followers. Jimmy loves the instant feedback of the site. (For those curious, Jimmy is @jimmyfallon on Twitter and Chris is @nerdist)

7:42 PM - Jimmy just did a Charlie Sheen faux-commercial for a cologne called "Winning." One, Jimmy does a fantastic Charlie Sheen. Two, the whole commercial is hilarious. (I'm guessing the cologne? Not so great...) And Jimmy reveals he used his own hair to look like Charlie.

7:44 PM - Of the many show parodies that the show has done, Jimmy says, "We spoof shows that we love." Some of them include "Real Housewives of Late Night," "Jersey Floor," and "Late" (a take off of "Lost").

7:48 PM - Chris reveals that in Jimmy's office is a giant pickle suspended from the ceiling. Turns out it was a gift from Conan O'Brien, who received it as a gift from Letterman. Upon giving it to him, Conan told Jimmy, "You give it to the next poor schlub who gets this job."

7:51 PM - We get to watch the "Jersey Floor" skit. In the video, Rachel Dratch (as a Snookie-esque type) slips and falls on a table. Jimmy reveals after the video (which they shot on an abandoned floor at 30 Rockefeller Plaza) that Rachel actually did fall for real. "A perfect Snookie fall," Jimmy says.

7:59 PM - Jimmy runs through a routine day which sounds like a lot of meetings about guest chats, monologues and he also practices the monologue jokes (for 50 people they pull from the NBC tour) to figure out which ones are the best to actually use in the show.

8:01 PM - One of the games played on the show is called "Wax On/Wax Off." The game involves body hair ripped off when your buddy misses impossible questions like "Great Latvian Prime Ministers." Crazy!

8:03 PM - After two years on the air, Jimmy still works, works, works. One thing he reveals as host is that "you can't get sick. You cannot be sick." He realizes a lot of people's jobs depend on him.

8:04 PM - We watch "The Real Housewives of Late Night" skit with Jimmy in drag, which is a site to behold. Jimmy does confirm that the "characters" in the skit are not based on any particular Housewives from the Bravo franchise. "You're not a bad looking lady," says Chris of Jimmy in drag.

8:07 PM - Chris asks Jimmy how he managed to get The Roots as the house band for "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." When Jimmy met with band members "?uestlove" and "Black Thought," they wanted to know if they wanted to bring Herbie Hancock on for a night, could they do that. Jimmy said he would rent Herbie an apartment to do that! Jimmy shares, "I don't know what I'd do without them. They're like family,"

8:12 PM - Jimmy explains impersonating Neil Young singing Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair" song with Springsteen (yes, the real Springsteen) also being a part of it and how Jimmy got him to wear a fake beard, hat and a wig.

8:14 PM - The clip latest clip features Jimmy as Neil Young who is joined by Bruce Springsteen singing a slowed down version of "Whip My Hair." Jimmy says he was so nervous knowing Springsteen was going to join him on the stage for the show.

8:20 PM - We dive into another clip - the "Glee" inspired clip with the cast of NBC's "Parks & Recreation" singing Twisted Sisters' hit song "We're Not Gonna Take It."

8:25 PM - Chris gives Jimmy props for his interview technique. He says that while some talk show hosts have more scripted interviews (Chris then does a quick Leno impersonation, which get laughs). Jimmy talks about having Robert DeNiro as his first guest and how DeNiro doesn't really like to talk. Not the best idea for a first guest, huh? This is why, Jimmy advises, you keep your studio temperature very cold - for flop sweat that may develop during an experience like the one with DeNiro.

8:29 PM - "I didn't know how to do it but to do it," says Jimmy on how he had zero chat show experience when he started his show.

8:34 PM - "We figure you worked all your day, you're stressed out and you just want to go to bed and get one laugh. That's what we want to do," says Jimmy on the simple philosophy of his show. Chris says, "We're lucky we get to do this crap, right?!" Jimmy agrees.

8:36 PM - Jimmy says they had to convince the TV Academy to let him host the Emmys this past fall. Lorne made a phone call to help them make the decision. Of the now-classic opening number, Jimmy said they picked "Born To Run" as the song to sing and "we had people from Tina Fey, Jon Hamm, Joel McHale - He killed! He was great! Kate Gosselin, Tim Gunn." Jimmy adds in talking about what's on our TV now that "Kim Kardashian is someone" and Chris takes his hands to his stomach and feigns pain.

8:38 PM - Time for the next clip and, you guessed it, it's the opening of the 2010 Emmys.

8:44 PM - Q&A time and a fan asks how he gets guest stars to play games and do silly things. Jimmy answers "I think it's just that we've been on so long that the celebrity knows we're not going to make fun of them... it will be a fun bit." Jimmy says Tiger Woods is coming on the show this week and is going to play miniature golf. Chris jokes "That's probably the nicest comedy sketch anyone has pitched him recently!"

8:50 PM - Asked if he usually knows if one of his skits is going to work, Jimmy says he often doesn't. The "History of Rap" video with Justin Timberlake wasn't anything complicated but he says it's probably the biggest viral hit to come from the show.

8:52 PM - In Jimmy talking about how all the late night guys actually get along, Hardwick tries a Scottish accent a la Craig Ferguson and Jimmy says "That's the worst Scottish accent I've ever heard." Jimmy goes on to give him a better sounding Craig Ferguson impersonation.

8:53 PM - Asked if he'll host "Saturday Night Live" sometime in the future and Jimmy says he'd be up for it next season. He didn't want to thus far because he was focused on getting his show off the ground.

8:54 PM - Jimmy announces that the "Thank You Notes" segment (which he does every Friday) is coming out in book form this May! Sign me up!

8:56 PM - Steve Higgins, who announces the show and lends himself to the skits on occasion is still the main producer of "Saturday Night Live." "He has a job!" Jimmy exclaims, as if still shocked that Steve comes down for an hour every day when the show tapes. "I think that kind of shows what the show is all about," he says.

8:58 PM - Jimmy talks about how they used Ben & Jerry's ice cream in a sketch and the company invited the show to create their own flavor. The first name was "Balls In Your Mouth" but it's not what you think. It means the oil spill balls that would you'd get in your mouth when swimming in an oil spill. The actual name of their flavor that they ended up going with is "Late Night Snack."

8:59 PM - As if the night wasn't near-perfect enough, Chris announces that in wrapping up the panel, Ben & Jerry's is out in the lobby of the Saban Theater with Late Night Snack ice cream for everybody! (My review of the ice cream? Amazing! Kettle Chip balls with fudge in vanilla ice cream with a salty caramel swirl!)

9:00 PM - That's a wrap for tonight's panel. Brian will be covering PaleyFest tomorrow with the "Freaks & Geeks"/"Undeclared" Reunion.

And for more PaleyFest coverage - past and present - visit our Paley Center topic page.

  [march 2011]  


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