A little more than a month after NBC officially announced that Jimmy Fallon would replace Jay Leno as the host of The Tonight Show – thus pulling back the curtain on what was, at the time, television’s worst kept secret – the network has now locked in Fallon’s successor on Late Night: current SNL Weekend Update host Seth Meyers.
As of right now, we don’t know when Meyers’ version of Late Night will begin, though logic dictates that it will likely come sometime around the conclusion of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Fallon’s Tonight debut.
Meyers is expected to remain with SNL through the fall. His late night show, like Fallon’s current and future show, will film in New York.
Here’s what NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt had to say about choosing Meyers:
“We think Seth is one of the brightest, most insightful comedy writers and performers of his generation. His years at SNL’s Weekend Update desk, not to mention being head writer of the show for many seasons, helped him hone a topical brand of comedy that is perfect for the Late Night franchise.”
While not as seemingly set-in-stone as Fallon was prior to the official announcement that he would take over at 11:30pm, Meyers had been rumored to be NBC’s choice for the 12:30am timeslot, thanks to his success on Weekend Update and his familiarity with SNL, Late Night, and soon-to-be Tonight Show producer Lorne Michaels.
Besides Meyers, Tina Fey and Howard Stern’s names had also been floated as intriguing possibilities, though the chances are minimal that either was more than a passing thought due to the former’s busy schedule and latter’s raunchier comedic sensibilities.
Another possible candidate that had been speculated about was former SNL writer and comedian John Mulaney, who had also worked with Michaels on SNL and on what had been viewed as a promising semi-autobiographical sitcom pilot that the comic was set to headline. Ultimately, though, NBC passed on that show and, apparently, on the chance to go with a lesser-known quantity for the Late Night gig – assuming he was ever really in contention.
If anything, Meyers may even feel like more of a slam dunk than Fallon was when he inherited Late Night. Though Fallon left his own mark in his time at the Weekend Update desk – sitting beside Fey for four years – the less than stellar film career that followed took some of the bloom off his rose by the time he was tapped to succeed Conan O’Brien back in 2009.
Meyers, on the other hand, feels more like a safe bet after seven stellar seasons on Weekend Update (making him the longest tenured “anchor” in SNL history) and a string of successful awards show hosting gigs.
The big question for Meyers, though, is what will his version of Late Night look like?
We already know that Michael Shoemaker (a producer on Late Night who is also working with Meyers on their animated Hulu sitcom, The Awesomes) will stick around to work with Michaels and Meyers, but there are rumors that the show they construct may look a little like Weekend Update and less like the tried-and-true format that has – more or less – been adopted by Meyers’ late night predecessors.
Could an Update-esque late night network offering with a stronger focus on the news of the day work, or would audiences regard such a format as tired in a landscape that’s populated with Comedy Central’s demo-crushing Daily Show/Colbert Report duo? How about this: Would Meyers even want to stick that close to his comfort zone and invite criticism that he’s a one-trick pony?
As is always the case with news like this, questions are abound. But as we wait to see how this all comes together, fans can take solace in the knowledge that – at least this time – it seems like NBC isn’t dropping the ball as it attempts to pass the baton with its late night lineup.
Late Night airs @12:36pm on NBC.