Fallon Charms on Tonight Debut
Show back in NYC after 42 years
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2014 2:20 AM CST
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(Newser) – Jimmy Fallon took the helm of the Tonight Show last night in a star-studded debut that marked the show's return to New York City after more than 40 years in LA. The newbie's guests included Will Smith and U2—who performed new song "Invisible" on the roof of Rockefeller Center—but big names including Robert De Niro, Joe Namath, Rudolph Giuliani, Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, Mike Tyson, Joan Rivers, Stephen Colbert, and Sarah Jessica Parker also turned up to plunk $100 on Fallon's new desk after Fallon joked about winning a bet from a "buddy who said that I'd never be the host," reports the AP.

Fallon—whose opening monologue was packed with Olympics jokes—paid tribute to the show's history and previous hosts, as well as his fans and family, Mediaite notes. So how did he do? With no drastic changes to the show's formula, "he remained funny, gracious, bubbly and, above all, comfortable," decides Frazier Moore at the AP. But Alessandra Stanley at the New York Times notes that with the show's future uncertain in the digital age, Fallon's debut was "steeped in tradition and solemnity" and he "made nice more than he made jokes." He is a "charming and gifted comedian who on his first night chose to be subdued and at times even serious"—a choice that says as much about the show's future as it does its new host, she writes.

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Feb 20, 2014 3:57 PM CST
watched the first show, thought it was to black. all black band who played hip bop leading into breaks, first guest was black doing a skit on hip bop music. was U2 there as the white token ?
Feb 19, 2014 11:38 PM CST
Still like Letterman and I do tune into Conan over on TBS once in-a-while, but I may be giving Fallon more viewship. Fallon has really developed and has a lot of Carson's mannerisms and sensibilities while livening things up with Steve Allen-like wackness. After 20 years of staying away from "Tonight", I'm going to give it another shot (even though they screwed over Letterman first and then Conan.) Letterman-Conan-Jimmy... we may be entering into another golden age of rival talk shows like in the old Carson-Cavett-Merv days.
Feb 19, 2014 10:16 AM CST
I am a strange bird who switched back and forth between Leno and Letterman. I'll give Fallon some chances, but after the first show Letterman will be getting my ears and eyeballs.