The change (for the third time in four years) of the host of NBC's Tonight show is historic.
But it has nothing to do with the host himself-or even the change of the program's point of origination from Hollywood back to New York City (where it was for its first 18 years before it moved west in 1972).
Tonight (and that was its original name) has been NBC's late-night franchise since it began in 1954 with Steve Allen as its host. Even after Late Night premiered in 1982 (first with David Letterman, then with Conan O'Brien,and more recently with Jimmy Fallon and now Seth Myers), Tonight has always been the first word in post-prime time network television.
But there's an interesting side note about the host change; one I haven't heard anyone talk about.
Fallon, who is replacing long-time host Jay Leno, is an alumnus of Saturday NIght Live, as is Myers, who will replace Fallon on Late Night after the Olympics. Both shows, I understand, are under the supervision of Lorne Michaels, creator and long-time producer of SNL (except for a few years in the early 1980's). SNL, along with Tonight, NBC Nightly News and, until recently, the Today show, have been an oasis in the network desert that has been NBC since 2004. SNL is also a frequent subject of day-after conversation, especially during the election season.
Furthermore, SNL alumni have starred and appeared in other NBC series, such as the prime-time sitcoms 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Community (which briefly included original SNL cast member Chevy Chase).
Does that now make Saturday Night Live NBC's premier late-night franchise?
Until Fallon, no SNL cast member had had a major role in any of NBC's other late-night series (although Letterman in his early years could have been mistaken for one).
The times are changing-at least for NBC.
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