January 22, 2010
Posted: 05:35 PM ET
As host of "Late Night," still slated for 12:35 a.m. Monday through Friday, Fallon is exactly where O'Brien once was for 16 years: the follow-up to Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." If history repeats itself, Fallon may be poised to take the "Tonight" baton as O'Brien did, though he would probably hope for better results.
The 35-year-old comedian was brought into NBC's late-night fold last March to take over O'Brien's former post on "Late Night." Throughout the entire late-night battle at NBC, Fallon remained the silent new kid, keeping quiet even though the proposed negotiations affected his show as well. NBC originally devised a scheme that would place "The Jay Leno Show" at 11:35 p.m. for a half hour, to be followed by "The Tonight Show" at 12:05, which would knock Fallon back to 1:05, a move that could have put a deep gash in the newcomer's ratings.
"He was wise to stay out of it, and he didn't have much of a choice I don't think. He's a small fish at NBC," said Slantmagazine.com's TV editor Sal Cinquemani. "He's like a little brother watching his siblings fight with his parents and to keep quiet was the classy thing to do."
Even as O'Brien rode a ratings wave thanks to the shots he fired at the network, Fallon didn't use the open season on NBC to his advantage. But, Cinquemani said, Fallon didn't have to. At the end of the day, O'Brien's exit is the best thing that could have come out of this mess for Fallon.
"This puts him in a better position than he was before, because he could now potentially be the host that follows on 'The Tonight Show,' " Cinquemani said. "It definitely works to his benefit, which is why he probably didn't say anything."
From around the web
Go Behind The Scenes
LARRY KING LIVE'S Emmy-winning Senior Executive Producer Wendy Walker knows what it takes to make a great story.
With anecdotes, provocative emails, scandals, show transcripts and insights into Walker's long working relationship with Larry King, her new book PRODUCER issues readers an invitation to listen in on the most intriguing conversations on the planet.