Late-night talk shows always add oomph to the end of a weekday filled with back-to-back series broadcasts of daily episodes. It is a great way to meet the leading actors we watch on our screens daily, witness fun interactions between the comedy-induced live montages, and get attached to the hosts. One such show-topping host is Jimmy Fallon, a name that resounds far and wide following his bright career as the host of the grand ‘The Tonight Show’ on NBC. But his fate was not sealed through his unbridled talent alone. A special someone’s nudge was pivotal to his career.
The Hollywood Reporter states that the Strike Force Five Podcast’s latest episode featured Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, Seth Meyers, and Jimmy Fallon, where the late-night-show-host shared his passage of career decisions and what, or should we say ‘who’ played a pivotal role in cementing his career as the host of ‘The Tonight Show’ on the NBC network. He said his role in NBC was shaky since the network was hesitant to offer such a big role to someone who ended their Saturday Night Live career to pursue acting.
NEW #StrikeForceFive is up! ⚡️🎙
— Strike Force Five (@StrikeForceFive) September 26, 2023
According to The Hollywood Reporter, after hosting the late-night talk show from 2009 to 2014, the comedian wanted to try his skills at acting and began pursuing movie roles as an attempt to follow in the footsteps of other famous comedians who left that genre to pursue acting like Eddie Murphy and Conan O’Brien. During that specific period, Fallon states that the producer, Lorna Michales, contacted him and asked about his likeliness of hosting ‘The Tonight Show’ on NBC in the near future. “He [Michaels] goes, ‘Would you ever want to do a talk show?’” Fallon reminisced. “I go, ‘I don’t think so. … In six years, ask me, and if I’m around I’ll think about it.’”
Unexpectedly, amidst the rush, Michaels remembered their deal and contacted Fallon after six years with the same proposition. After much hesitation and amplified convincing from his wife, Fallon decided to take it. He recalled their conversation on the podcast, saying, “So, I call Lorne, and I go, ‘I’m in. I’d love to do it,’” Fallon revealed. “He goes, ‘Great. NBC doesn’t really want you. But we have to talk to them.’ I’m not even on their list, by the way.” This seemed like a hard blow for Fallon, and he was devastated and recalled that NBC’s hesitance in giving him the pivotal role had something to do with his allegedly inconsistent work ethic, with him leaving SNL to enter into the acting field.
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However, The Hollywood Reporter stated that Michaels stepped in to ‘bat for Fallon’ and spoke to the NBC network, saying, “’Either you do this with Jimmy, or I’m not involved,’ or something like that.” He said that Michaels “Changed my life.” Thereafter, Late Night was taken over by Fallon from 2009 to 2014 before he switched to The Tonight Show, his current abode where he garners A-list celebrities and millions of views for NBC.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, another comedian’s career was solidified by Michaels. Seth Meyers shared his journey and Michaels’ crucial role in securing his role as Late Night Show host. He reported that Late Night “was not on my radar at all as something that I was going to do in my future,” but then fate called on him when he came across a post that read that he was the preferred replacement on the show.
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Meyer further shared, “When you talk to Lorne, it often feels like a follow-up call to a conversation that never happened. He literally just started saying, ‘You know, I think you’ll do it, and it will be good, and it will take time, but you’ll have Jimmy as a lead-in.’ There was again no moment when anybody ever said to me, would you like to do this?”
It is strange to imagine a late-night show missing on the NBC network, let alone Fallons and Meyer’s absence from the same. It is a good thing we learned about the contributions of Michaels to their careers, which in turn ensured that we get two spectacular shows on the channel.