Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Musings, Reason, Technology > Why Jimmy Fallon will Not be a Successful Replacement for Jay Leno

Why Jimmy Fallon will Not be a Successful Replacement for Jay Leno

Many of my recent posts have been a bit too abstract, and therefore I am going to write one about something a bit more frivolous and contemporary. As most of you must have heard for a few months, Jimmy Fallon is going to replace Jay Leno as the host of ‘The Tonight Show‘ in the later half of February 2014. As most of you also know, this is not the first time NBC tried to replace Jay Leno as the host of that late night variety entertainment program.

I predict that this attempt to replace Jay Leno will also fail in stabilizing, let alone increasing, the viewership of that show over more than a few months.

But before telling you my hypothesis about why Jimmy Fallon will not succeed, let us take a quick look at the mindset behind this decision. The upper executive ranks of NBC, like almost every other large corporation in the western world, are populated by a very specific subcategory of people. They are, by and large, people who got into their current positions via some combination of luck, connections and bull-shitting. The vast majority of senior executives in large corporations have no interest or stake in the future of the institutions they control beyond the next quarterly financial report.

These executives will always receive excellent compensation- whether the corporation they run succeeds or fails. Nor is their incompetence a barrier to a similar or better job at another large corporation. They will also never enjoy the public recognition and popularity of the actors and other celebrities who are the public face of their corporation. The confluence of these conditions ensures that most of their professional decisions are rooted in personal likes, dislikes, fashions, power plays and other petty considerations typically associated with the inter-personal behavior of adolescent girls.

So what does any of this mean for the decision to get a new host for a late-night TV program?

Well.. it comes down to their justification for that action. The official version of the story is that Jay Leno’s tenure as the host of that show was just not giving them the kind of ratings they had once hoped for. They were also “concerned” that the median age of the average regular viewer of that show was in the mid- to late- 50s. But can either issue be fixed by replacing him with Jimmy Fallon or anybody else?

Let me ask you a simple question- When was the last time you sat through the majority, let alone an entire episode, of a late night talk show on one of the big networks? I have not done that in almost ten years and I can bet that many of you are in the same boat. The growing popularity of programs on non-basic cable channels, the astronomical increase of searchable media on the internet, YouTube and its clones, NetFlix and other subscription services, mobile internet devices and social media platforms have pulled (and fragmented) the 40- and under crowd away from traditional TV programming. Consequently the only people regularly watching traditional TV programming are in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

Changing the host of a late night show to someone who is younger, “hipper” or more “web-savvy” does not address the fundamental limitations and handicaps of network TV programming. The big networks simply cannot keep up with their much faster and nimbler competitors in the great race for an ever-increasing number of eyeballs. This is not to say that network TV will die out anytime soon, but it is obvious that they will have to cater to an increasingly older and slowly shrinking audience. And this brings me to the main reason why Fallon will not be a successful replacement for Leno as the new host of ‘The Tonight Show’.

Jimmy Fallon simply has the wrong demographic and stylistic profile for most regular viewers of that show.

Jay Leno, at 63, is in the middle of the demographic that regularly watches his show. He is very relateable to most of his audience at multiple levels- from his physical appearance, comedic style, world view to the content of his program. Jimmy Fallon, at 39, is a full generation younger than Leno and has to try hard to be someone he is clearly not- and it shows!

A secondary factor working against Fallon is the strong desire of NBC to attract a younger crowd. I can bet that this desire will somehow translate into some focus-group and consultant driven alterations to the show format that will alienate the core viewership while failing to attract enough younger replacements- resulting in yet more of the same till the downward cycle eventually killing the show. Meanwhile the executives who made these disastrous decisions will have moved on to another corporation where they will do more of the same.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. February 1, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    they should have Rosie O’Donell!

  2. JD
    February 2, 2014 at 3:47 am

    I hate Jimmy Fallon and that whole bullshit SNL culture. Idiots still talking about whether they saw the skit. It’s as bad as talking about TV shows at work. They cling to them because that’s all they know.

  3. thomas
    February 2, 2014 at 4:09 am

    You nailed it. Everything you said is what I feel but could not put into words. A lot of Fallon’s schtick is “game-showy” and I don’t think most people of any age can really relate. A lot of Fallon’s charm is that he has a lot of pull since he socializes so much with celebs. But that isn’t really what it is about, like you said it about being relatable to your audience.

    Leno is a good guy. He doesn’t hit back but the truth of what happened isn’t what was written. They probably begged him to come back. He didn’t “steal the show” back. Watch his jaylenosgarage. He is a real stand-up guy cuz there is no way he could be scheming after watching him on there.

  4. Fuck Everybody
    February 2, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    ” He is a real stand-up guy ”

    I think Leno’s a nice enough guy too. He gets a bad rap because it’s cool to hate on the “sellout” in the world of comedians. Standup is a young man’s game anyway. There’s nothing wrong with moving on to being a more generalist entertainer the way Leno did. He’s made hundreds of millions of dollars. He wins. These shows are dinosaurs, a thing of the past. Time for network TV to just be sold to the AARP.

  5. Ted
    February 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    A look at how David Letterman provides useful lessons. When Letterman did not get The Tonight Show, he left. But, when other networks approached him, he insisted that he own the show. By ensuring that he owned the show, he was less answerable to network executives, and he could safely ignore their suggestions.

    So, Leno has consistently beat Letterman in the years they have gone head to head. But, in terms of memorable TV, Letterman has Leno beat. Whether it was his feud with Oprah Winfrey, being the first show to go back on the air after 9/11, or settling with his writers sooner than everybody else – Letterman does the show on his terms. Additionally, Letterman also owns & produces The Late, Late Show which probably has the best host in Craig Ferguson. No band, no sidekick except for the gay robot.

    There is also the matter of moving The Tonight Show to NY. A NY audience is different from a southern CA audience, and what appeals to the narrower demographic there may not appeal to other regions of the country. Leno traveled the country enough to tailor his show to as much of the country as possible. Fallon’s whole career has been in NY and that extremely narrow band of media businesspeople.

  6. Rebekah
    February 7, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Fallon will fail. His audience is still at the bar or work while Leno’s show is on. Those people aren’t going to watch. Older people aren’t going to watch. Anyone with any real sense of humor won’t think he’s funny, cause he isn’t. Seriously, how many times do you have to smile and look at the camera while doing a skit? Unprofessional and unfunny is a losing proposition for NBC. But hey, its NBC and who cares? Leno probably got canned because he made too many jokes abouts NBC’s beloved idol, Barack Obama. Perhaps if Leno had gotten thrills up his leg and stammered like a jabbering idiot every time Obama came on his show they would have kept him around.

  7. Moshe Levinger
    February 9, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Late shows on TV? Do thet still produce them?

  8. johnc
    February 15, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    Your description of the unaccountable corporate pinheads making dumb decisions hit the nail on the head. It fit what I was thinking about in describing this boneheaded corporate decision to derail a number 1 show and replace it with a trying too hard to be funny individual in Fallon. I hope that the show does fail and these corporate &hitheads will be blackballed from the industry. I find Fallon to be incredibly not funny or even topical. He tries too hard to impress, sort of like the guy who tries to be the life of the party and no one is paying attention to him. I see him lasting less than a year and being replaced by Seth Meyers. Now Seth has an energy about him that is entertaining. I doubt that Leno would ever entertain coming back to the Tonight Show even if the execs were begging him to.

  9. Kristin
    March 3, 2014 at 5:34 am

    Hey! I think Jimmy Fallon is so funny! Also, u know, there are some good, sexy, submissive, cock worshiping, obedient ‘cunts’ out here whose men adore them. I di my best to loom as hot as I possibly can by watching what I eat, working out, dressing nicely, boob job, nice makeup and manicures/hair salon, I do anything my man wants in bed and keep all of my ‘access’ holes open and ready for him at all times (except menstruation, then I wear a tampon and give him head or anal if he wants it), I cook for him, clean our home and laundry, get other hot girlfriends of mine to have threesomes, tell him all the time how sexy he is and how much I appreciate him supporting us well enough to be a stay at home mom, I arrange really fun activities for us and the whole family, make his home beautiful, raise our kid to be a respectful, smart, sweet, talented boy, and I defer to my man for major decisions in our lives because I trust him as the alpha leader of our little unit. So c’mon. True love is possible, don’t be so cynical! 😉

    • Carl Sagan is god
      March 19, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      You’re the kind of person who’d laugh herself pee-less when her diarrhea overloaded toilet backs up into her parents’ bedroom. Jimmy Fallon is a piece of shit! He looks like shit and every time he opens his mouth more shit descends. Fallon’s about as comedic as drunken flies trying to stabilize themselves on sun dried dog shit. Yeah, I’m so cynical! Hee-hee! Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to wipe your drippy behind! In some people too much rectal leakage leads to atrophy of the brain!!!

  10. KisFreck
    March 16, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    “Why I hate Jimmy Fallon” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgIvS-e-7y8

  11. Carl Sagan is god
    March 19, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    What late night talk host has ever been any good? From the long dead Steve Allen to Johnny Carson to Leno to Fallon they ALL sucked! I couldn’t imagine “trying to unwind” watching these late night cretins. From the inferior monologues to the grade school quality jokes, boring guests, stupid bands and even stupider house bands, these late night talk shows will hopefully fade into oblivion as more people stop watching TV. Perhaps the networks should look into reviving the test pattern. It’s a whole lot cheaper than paying for the late night talk “dead air” they broadcast five nights a week.

  12. Jimmy
    August 7, 2014 at 6:46 am

    You were wrong

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