During his panel in NBC’s day at the TCA winter press tour on Sunday (Jan. 19), Fallon revealed that Will Smith had been booked as his first guest, with U2 on the books as musical guests. Fallon remarked that he’d been pursuing the Irish rockers for some time, so this represents quite a coup for him.
Fallon also spoke on the major change in the name of the show, swapping out “With” in favor of “Starring.” As he explains it, the switch-up is a throwback to the history of the program.
“We were looking at the different logos and it was ‘The Tonight Show’ … it was always ‘Starring Jack Paar,’ ‘Starring Johnny Carson,'” Fallon says. “When Jay [Leno] took over, no one talked about it, but all of a sudden it was ‘With.’ … I like ‘Starring.'”
He also opened up about the transition with Leno, sharing a story from the troubled days of the Leno-Conan O’Brien kerfuffle. “After the Jay-Conan stuff, I called Jay and told him, ‘I want to let you know that I’m not gunning for your position. I’m very happy at 12:37, I’m here in New York and … very happy at my job. When you decide to step down, I hope it’s done the right way,'” Fallon admits. “We talked every two weeks. One day he called me and said, ‘I think this is going to be the year, and I’d love you to be the next guy.'”
Fallon admits he’s not concerned over where Leno may land next, even if it’s at NBC. “The more Jay, the better,” the comedian says. “Maybe he can be the new detective on ‘The Blacklist.’“
“The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” premieres Monday, Feb. 17 at midnight ET/PT following Olympic coverage on NBC. It moves to its regular 11:35 p.m. spot following the Olympics on Feb. 24.