Pat Clark: ‘Tonight Show’ is about to get a lot better

02/13/2014 12:00 AM

02/13/2014 12:53 PM

Dear NBC, thank you for bringing in Jimmy Fallon to replace Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.” There’d be a good joke there, a la Fallon’s regular “Late Night” thank-you letter shtick, except I’m totally serious.

And not anywhere near funny enough to match up against Fallon and his writing team.

Fallon has been a favorite since his days on “Saturday Night Live” and a natural at the late-night TV game. His “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” was second fiddle, timewise, to “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” but top dog in the entertainment department.

I was never a fan of Leno on “The Tonight Show.” His schmooze and delivery were more grating than funny, so – aside from occasionally enjoying his “Headlines” segments, when he skewered mistakes and misprints in newspaper copy and ads (and praying nothing I wrote ever showed up) – I rarely watched “The Tonight Show” after Johnny Carson left.

And, yes, I’m old enough to remember watching Johnny Carson. Thanks for noticing.

But, really, who could replace Carson, anyway?

Jimmy Fallon, perhaps? Fallon has real likability and a complete willingness to make a fool of himself for the sake of a good laugh.

The guy’s pretty talented beyond comedy, too. He often shows off his musical skills – usually sung for laughs, of course. Expect plenty of duets with guests and plenty of visits from Justin Timberlake, who likes a good joke-song himself and who likes sharing the stage with Fallon.

So, not surprisingly, Timberlake is set to show up the first week on the new “Tonight Show,” which begins Monday. According to the Contra Costa Times, Fallon’s early guests are to include Michelle Obama, Will Smith, Jerry Seinfeld, Bradley Cooper, Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig and Tim McGraw. Timberlake will close out the week next Friday.

But, let’s face it, Fallon had me with Bono: U2 is set to appear on Monday night’s kickoff show.

Of course, the switch to Fallon on “The Tonight Show” can be successful only if NBC allows him to bring along the great writing, the goofy Fallonisms and downright craziness that made “Late Night” and Fallon the success that they were.

It’s no secret NBC’s move to Fallon is geared toward reeling in a younger audience that will stick with the show for the long haul. I may not be that target, but the right kind of comedy knows no age boundaries. Fallon will attract a demographic swath that Leno could only have dreamed about.

Fallon brings along sidekick Steve Higgins and house band The Roots from “Late Night” and has promised not much will change except the time slot. That’s all great news.

Dear Jimmy Fallon, thank you for being you – and for moving to an earlier hour for us old folks.

Speaking of old ...

Did anyone else notice that three of the four movies opening at the cineplexes today are remakes from the 1980s?

Seriously, three remakes, one week. That’s one of the saddest facts to come out of Hollywood in a long time.

“RoboCop” (originally released in 1987) opened Wednesday, and “About Last Night” (1986) and “Endless Love” (1981) open today.

As a suggested headline on a Philadelphia Inquirer story stated: “The ’80s called – they want their movies back.” And I really wish I’d written that first.

The new “RoboCop” stars Joel Kinnaman as the police officer who gets turned into a cyborg. The original “RoboCop” starred Peter Weller. It spawned three sequels, so get ready for more remakes of that series. (Ugh)

“About Last Night” is being remade with an all-black cast – Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy and Joy Bryant in the roles made famous by Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins.

“Endless Love” puts Gabriella Wilde in the role of a daughter who falls for a fellow played by Alex Pettyfer, who does not get the seal of approval from her father, played by Bruce Greenwood. Brooke Shields originated the daughter role. Martin Hewitt (who?) played the love interest and Don Murray was dad. Franco Zeffirelli directed the 1981 film.

I’ll admit, remaking “About Last Night” hurts the most. That film has a special place in our house, since my husband and I have watched it over and over since our dating days. We love that movie, even if it wasn’t great cinema. Belushi was absolutely hilarious – at least that was what our ’80s selves thought. And our today selves still think so.

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of remakes. I think most of them are beyond pointless – show the original. If it’s good enough to remake, it’s good enough to stand on its own.

Clearly, there’s a dearth of creativity in Hollywood, where there don’t seem to be a lot of great ideas left for movie scripts.

Sure, new technology allows film-remakers to put all sorts of advanced spins on the older movies. But the older movies are classics for a reason. Their old-fashionness is what makes them beloved – or at least memorable.

Leave our memories alone.

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