It was the hair tousle felt 'round the world—and it may have helped dethrone Jimmy Fallon from his perch atop of that world, Dave Itzkoff notes for the New York Times. The 42-year-old Fallon, who started hosting NBC's Tonight Show in 2014, famously drew backlash in September when he palled around with Donald Trump on his show, throwing him "innocuous" questions and mussing his tresses. Itzkoff notes the challenges now facing the "multitalented but apolitical" Fallon, who, with his "down-the-middle" sensibilities, is seeing his competitor Stephen Colbert inch closer in the ratings with his own politically charged Late Show. "I need all the luck I can get," he ruefully told a studio audience recently in attendance for one of his rehearsals.
It now seems to have sunk in with the self-proclaimed "people pleaser" that his Trump banter caused problems, and he says his critics had "a right to be mad"—though he insists he reached for Trump's head almost to "minimize him," not "humanize him." Fallon adds he was "devastated" about the reaction and that he should've talked about it on the air to smooth things over. The Daily Beast reported in March there appeared to be pressure on Fallon to make his show more political, and it notes his recent monologues have been more Trump-centric. Still, Fallon tells Itzkoff he has no far-reaching plans to upend his mission to reach as many viewers as possible with his nuggets of nonpolarizing, humorous "brain candy." "I don't want to be bullied into not being me," he says. The entire Times piece here, including takes from Jay Leno, Seth Meyers, and Tina Fey on late night's handling of Trump.