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Show business is a competitive game, and having a cutthroat flare can be necessary for success. For his part, however, Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s The Tonight Show is determined to keep his generation of late night hosts on good terms with one another.
In an interview with Billboard, Fallon explained his motivation for keeping nice in terms of Stephen Colbert taking the top spot on the Late Show:
[Jimmy] Kimmel was great to me – when I came on he was very supportive. So I’m going to be just as supportive as I can be to Colbert, who really isn’t even the new guy because he has totally been around. We did bits on his old show where we were frenemies and rivals, which was fun. So yeah, welcome. Best of luck, man.Jimmy Fallon has been a mega in-house success story for NBC, starting out as a contributor to Saturday Night Live and working his way up to hosting The Tonight Show. Despite his illustrious career for the network, however, it seems that the late night welcome into the late night scene that he got from Jimmy Kimmel of ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! has stuck with him so much that he is cool with welcoming Stephen Colbert over on traditional rival network CBS. Fallon even gave a cameo via taped message on Late Show on the night of Colbert’s debut.
Fallon’s welcoming attitude toward the other late night hosts is particularly refreshing after the decidedly unfunny fiasco in which the rivalry between Jay Leno on NBC and David Letterman on CBS set off a chain of events that ultimately ousted Conan O’Brien from his NBC hosting gig and turfed him to a new show on TBS. The mess was derided by many in and out of the media, and Tina Fey’s 30 Rock managed to get away with very transparently lampooning the entire situation.
Nowadays, most of the old crowd is retired from the late night scene, including the juggernauts of Leno and Letterman. The new generation of comedian hosts have been good-natured rather than vitriolic in their barbs at one another, and the increased awareness of social media has allowed them to thrive in the same timeslots on their different networks.
That’s not to say that there’s not a healthy spirit of competition between the shows and their hosts; Jimmy Fallon is aware of what works and what doesn’t in the biz to make sure that The Tonight Show stays on top. Nevertheless, his determination to be nice to all of the hosts of late night television shows that his savvy extends beyond comedy and TV.