Jimmy Fallon officially took the reins of the "The Tonight Show" in his much anticipated debut Monday with good ratings and a long list of celeb cameos to kick off his tenure.
The show pulled a 7.1 rating in overnight metered-market results, equaling that of Conan O'Brien's debut on the show in 2009.
Deadline.com reports Fallon's inaugural show
was down 23 percent from the 9.2 ratings result of Jay Leno's last night on "The Tonight Show," which was the best the show had done since President Barack Obama's visit on March 19, 2009.
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"A visibly nervous Jimmy Fallon made it through his first 'Tonight Show' with a little help from his friends, and a lotta help from his city," wrote David Hinckley of the New York Daily News. "Fallon wasn't bad.
He just wasn't as good as he's going to get. He also did nothing to suggest NBC made the wrong call in giving him the desk owned for the last half-century by Johnny Carson and Jay Leno."
Guest Will Smith and musical act U2 were joined by a long list of celebrities who made cameo appearances after Fallon claimed a friend who said he'd never host "The Tonight Show" owed him $100. That began a parade of famous faces who plunked down $100 on Fallon's desk, including actors Robert DeNiro, Seth Rogen, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Lindsay Lohan, singers Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey, former boxing champion Mike Tyson, reality television star Kim Kardashian, and his former "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update partner Tina Fey. Comedian Stephen Colbert, who shares an antagonistic friendship with the new "Tonight Show" host, dumped a bucket of pennies over Fallon and his desk.
One of the best moments of the show was U2's performance from the top of NBC's building at 30 Rockefeller Center. The sunset show from the Top of the Rock offered stunning views of New York City, where "The Tonight Show" has returned after more than 40 years in Los Angeles.
Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman said Fallon
has the type of style that could make him as popular as Carson someday.
"Jimmy Fallon is an exuberantly witty late-night party host who radiates a love for what he's doing that can't be matched," Gleiberman said in his column. "He’s not trying too hard, the way that Jay did, to invite everyone to the party (or reveling in his cheeky self-pity, the way that Dave did, over the fact that not everyone's attending)."
While his first show moved along without a hiccup, Fallon's real test is yet to come, says Saeed Ahmed of CNN
"The real challenge will be next week, and the next month, and the next year," Ahmed wrote. "How will Fallon fare? That's the big question. For one thing, the late night landscape has changed. The hosts — like Conan O' Brien and Jimmy Kimmel — skew younger. And with Fallon, NBC hopes the audience will too."
Seth Meyers begins his stint in Fallon's old seat at "Late Night" next week.
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