With rumors swirling about the future of “The Tonight Show,” the two men competing for the host job, Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno made a joint appearance on Monday’s episode of “Late Night” to poke fun at the reports.
When NBC released a preview video earlier Monday with word that the two hosts would be appearing together in a sketch on “Late Night,” some media outlets and fans speculated it might be a prank.
But the sketch turned out to be real, and Leno and Fallon performed a heartfelt duet set to the tune of the classic “West Side Story” song, “Tonight.”
The two hosts jumped on the phone with each other yesterday and belted out a paraphrased version of “Tonight” from West Side Story.
The video was the bridge between their respective shows
The four-minute skit began with Leno leaving the “Tonight Show” stage in Burbank, hounded by crew members asking about the rumors that Fallon will be replacing him as host.
Meanwhile, in New York, Fallon looked troubled as he sat surrounded by newspapers and magazines splashed with his name and face. Then, Fallon got a call from Leno, asking how the younger man was holding up.
âIâve been through this before, you know,â said Leno, indirectly referring to the Conan OâBrien debacle that drove the latter host over to TBS in 2010.
âJay, can I ask you something,â Fallon said. âWeâre still friends, right?â
âOf course weâre still friends!â said Leno.
“Tonight, tonight, who’s going to host ‘Tonight’? Is it gonna be Jimmy or Jay?” Fallon sang. “Tonight, tonight, where will they tape ‘Tonight’? In New York, will it stay in L.A.?”
Leno’s version of the chorus included a nod to his longtime rival, “Late Show” host David Letterman: “Tonight, tonight, my ratings were all right. Twenty years and I’m still in first place! Tonight, tonight, I’ve got Fox on the line, or maybe I could take over for Dave.”
But lest viewers think all was rosy, Leno’s opened his monologue an hour earlier by leaving no doubt: “Before we get started, let me say that NBC and I have reached a peaceful, amicable agreement that will be beneficial to both sides. … April Fools! It will never happen.”
NBC has not confirmed anything regarding a “Tonight Show” transition, but many speculate that the network will not extend Leno’s contract beyond 2014 and will install Fallon as the next host of the 11:35 institution, with his show remaining in New York City.
The fact that Leno agreed to collaborate with Fallon in this sketch appears to be a signal that he, and more importantly NBC, wishes to avoid a messy PR battle when the transition occurs, says the Huff Post.
NBC has had two previous (and very public) battles for late night, first when Letterman and Leno competed to succeed Johnny Carson in 1992 and later, in 2009, when after promising Conan O’Brien the slot NBC grew anxious about O’Brien’s performance â and Leno’s ill-fated primetime show â and returned Leno to his late-night berth.