Six Ways “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” Plans To Change TV Forever


Walking into Gavin Purcell’s office at 30 Rockefeller centre the first thing you notice is his computer monitor. It’s a 52-inch flat screen mounted to the wall across from his desk. The desktop background is a picture of a Sega Light Phaser.

Ladies and gentleman, the co-producer of NBC’s Late Night  With Jimmy Fallon—debuting Monday—is a geek.

Or at least the former producer of G4’s Attack Of The Show, is geek-y. He’s not stuck in a basement somewhere uploading pictures to 4chan, but he knows what 4chan is.

The point is that Gavin and his team are bringing a new sensibility to the business of making a late night talk show. It’s one that they developed by living in an Internet-connected world. Late Night With Jimmy Fallon will be a talk show for the Twitter era.

So it’s only appropriate that we go over Late Night With Jimmy Fallon‘s innovations in list format:

  • Similar to the way Revision3 hosts tout sponsors products, the show will eventually (not at the start) bring live commercials back to broadcast television. Gavin told us the model will be the natural way Howard Stern sets aside a few moments to talk about products during his show. It won’t be a “hard sell” but a “fun sell.”
  • Much like a blog, the show’s writers will dig up topical content from the Internet. In fact, they’ve already done this: After Gawker pointed out that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal sounded a lot like Kenneth from the show 30 Rock, Late Night producers brought the actor who plays Kenneth, Jack McBrayer, on as a guest in a test show that aired on the Web. The way Gavin described plans for the show, it began to sound more and more like a blog for TV — except they “were able to actually get Jack McBrayer.”
  • Gavin hired three bloggers to run the show’s Web site, including Sara Schaefer, who used to write for Best Week Ever’s site. Late Night’s site isn’t supposed to be simply informational but a real destination site. Gavin says he wants the show’s writers to use it to test out ideas—as “a kind of farm team for the show.” It’ll work the other way too. Gavin said that after Jimmy’s done with guests on the show, producers will give them each a flip cam to play with backstage. The footage—edited but not over-produced—will later find its way onto the Web.
  • Late Night With Jimmy Fallon will be interactive. Jimmy already uses Twitter and Facebook. Expect those services to be integrated into the production of the show. Also expect Late Night’s writers to be generally aware that of that universe. Gavin says there are already comedy bits about Facebook written for the show.
  • Just as we were sitting down to talk to Gavin in his office, another producer stuck his head in. Was “that thing we did yesterday really Skype?,” he asked. Gavin told him yes, the video-conferencing in yesterday’s test show was made possible by Skype technology. “They want to sponsor it,” said the head in the doorway. Expect in-show segment sponsorships. Not as much in a sports show but more than talk shows have now.
  • Also look for different kinds of celebrity guests on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon—geekier ones. “Steve Jobs is a celebrity to us,” Gavin said, giving an example. He said his team has been working hard to book the Palm people so they can show off their new iPhone competitor, the Pre. If Fallon’s show was already on the air, you probably would have seen’s Jeff Bezos touting the Kindle 2. Jimmy is a huge gamer, so video game desigers with new projects out will sometimes be guests too. These kind of appearences won’t be paid for. The idea is that product-oriented guests bring the kind of audience to a show advertisers like to pay to put their products in front of. There will be a little Gizmodo in Jimmy Fallon.

Photo: Nicholas Carlson