Jimmy Fallon’s parents won’t be coming to the Emmys to see him host the 62nd edition of the awards show on August 29. They want to come, but he doesn’t want them there. Why? Because he might sweat too much.
The affable host of "Late Night" has seen his perspiration level drop in the 18 months since he took over the program and interviewed his first guest, the notoriously incommunicative and sweat-inducing Robert De Niro.
But Fallon wouldn’t have had it any other way. As he told reporters at the fall press tour, there was nothing to do but jump in, feet-to-the-fire style.
It’s the same thing with the Emmys, airing on his home network of NBC. Although it’s been awhile, he’s not a novice at emceeing an awards show—he co-hosted the MTV Movie Awards in 2001 with Kirsten Dunst and then solo in 2005, and hosted the 2002 VMAs.
The Emmys have a long history of turning to late-night personalities to front the ceremony. Johnny Carson did the honors many times, including a string of shows in the early 70s. Conan O’Brien took the reins in 2002 and 2006. David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Jay Leno have all co-hosted with other television personalities.
The stock of Emmy hosts has been on the way up since the debacle of 2008, when a group of reality hosts including Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest and Howie Mandel bumbled their way through the telecast, embarrassing the Television Academy and bringing down the level of the proceedings of what is the industry’s most prestigious awards ceremony. The fallout was and is so negative that this year, the reality hosting category for which many of them are nominated won’t even be televised.
Last year, Neil Patrick Harris made hay of many of those bad memories with his song and dance routines and what turned out to be an overall star turn as Emmy host.
Fallon’s support system includes a man who knows his way around awards shows better than almost anyone, executive producer Don Mischer—and the comfort of bringing over six of his writers from “Late Night.”
Mischer, a decorated veteran of producing Oscars, Tonys, Super Bowl half-time shows and Olympics opening ceremonies (whose name got continually botched at TCA as Mischner) took the stage with Fallon and Academy head honcho John Shaffner and handled reporter questions about the telecast. They included two separate inquiries about whether working with ATAS is like dealing with the Politburo. Um, let’s see. The answer to that was a resounding “no” from Mischer and Fallon, as Shaffner joked about being Brezhnev.
They spent time explaining how presenting the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award to George Clooney relegates some of the other categories like the reality hosts to non-broadcast status at the creative arts ceremony a week before the Emmys—and how guild regulations require that other categories be among the 27 awards televised in the three-hour show.
Fallon was tight-lipped about whether music will play a role in his Emmy hosting gig, saying he wanted to surprise the audience, but you can surely bet he’ll be picking up an acoustic guitar and crooning some bits that’ll bring belly laughs.
Meanwhile, the former SNL star is still giddy about his day job, thrilled to see people in the 30 Rock studio audience wearing “Late Night” T-shirts and warming to recurring skits like “Thank You Notes” and “Slow Jamming the News” with his fabulous house band, the Roots.
Fallon’s also proud of the catchy protest song he wrote and performed about the BP oil spill, (tar) “Balls in Your Mouth,” with him on guitar and the Roots doing backup vocals. He’s also still amazed that he got Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones on the show. And in a side conversation, he promised me he’ll be doing “Barry Gibb” again.
But when it comes to the late night wars, Fallon is like a warm and fuzzy Switzerland. He’s friendly with both Conan and Jay, keeping his nose to the grindstone and just doing his job as mortar shells blew up around him in the drawn-out controversy over “The Tonight Show.”
Instead of competition like the nearly two decade “battle” between Leno and Letterman, Fallon feels only kinship with time slot buddy Craig Ferguson, trading on-air waves with the Scotsman on CBS.
And should Conan take home an Emmy for his short-lived “Tonight Show” gig, there won’t be any awkward moments with Fallon—on stage or off. #