Jimmy Fallon Wasn't the First Pick for 'Late Night'

Behind the scenes of Fallon's late-night journey

by Zain ul Abedin
Jimmy Fallon Wasn't the First Pick for 'Late Night'
© Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images Entertainment

Jimmy Fallon, the charismatic host of 'Tonight Show', admitted that he wasn't the original choice for hosting NBC's renowned 'Late Night' show.

For many avid viewers, imagining 'Late Night' without Fallon's witty banter and lively interviews is next to impossible. However, there was a period when the idea of Fallon taking up the reins was neither on his radar nor NBC's.

Diving deep into his journey during the latest episode of the trending 'Strike Force Five' podcast - a collaborative venture that sees the joining forces of television bigwigs like Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, and Fallon himself - Jimmy laid out the unexpected turn of events.

Drawing back to the time after his departure from 'Saturday Night Live' in 2004, Fallon had aspirations of making it big in the movie world. Envisioning a career trajectory similar to the likes of comedic legends Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy, hosting wasn’t a part of his plan. Yet, life had different plans.

Jimmy Fallon's Unexpected Late Night Offer

It was Lorne Michaels, the iconic producer, who threw a curveball Fallon's way. As Conan O'Brien was potentially moving towards 'The Tonight Show', Michaels broached the idea of Fallon stepping in. "He asked if I'd ever consider doing a talk show,” Fallon reminisced. At the time, Fallon's response was playful yet non-committal, suggesting that maybe in six years, if he was still around, he might think about it.

Years flew by and, true to his word, Michaels circled back. Fallon shared how he first discussed the proposition with his wife, recalling her words of encouragement: “‘You have to take this job. You’re one of three human beings to ever do this.'” Upon expressing his interest, Fallon faced a reality check. “He said, ‘Great. NBC doesn’t really want you. You're not even on their list.’”

Despite the initial hesitancy, Michaels didn't back down. The veteran producer ardently championed for Fallon, placing an ultimatum that went something like, “Either you do this with Jimmy, or I’m not involved.” Fallon didn't hold back his gratitude for Michaels, stating that he "Changed my life."

Now, with Fallon firmly established in the late-night scene, these revelations serve as a reminder of the unpredictable paths that careers often take in the ever-evolving world of showbiz.