NBC is again poaching from Saturday Night Live to fill its Late Night slot. On Sunday, the network confirmed that SNL head writer and Weekend Update anchor Seth Meyers will replace Late Night's Jimmy Fallon when Fallon, also an SNL alumnus, moves up to replace Jay Leno as Tonight Show host.
Meyers' selection isn't a total surprise — he was the frontrunner in the rumor mill — but "it's a great choice," says David Zurawik at The Baltimore Sun. "Meyers is a huge talent. NBC is going to be much better off once Jay Leno is gone."
Actually, picking Meyers for the chair once filled by the caustic David Letterman and zany Conan O'Brien feels a little too safe, says James Poniewozik at TIME. "My sentiments are, like NBC's 12:35 programming choices, essentially unchanged" from when I wrote about the expected succession a month ago: "Really? Really?"
Nothing against Meyers, who very likely could be excellent in the job. I like him on SNL. He's funny, smart, good with topical comedy. He's as well qualified to host Late Night as Fallon was when he took over. But there's the thing: he's practically exactly where and what Fallon was when he took over. Leaving aside the whole dominance of late night by white men, it's unfortunate that NBC is taking a format already saturated with guys behind desks and making as little change to it as possible.... The time after midnight used to be an anarchic spot within network TV for experimentation. Now, after midnight, it's just another day. [TIME]
Man, give Meyers a chance, says Ben Yakas at Gothamist. True, his "solid and genial presence" behind the storied Weekend Update desk hasn't shown him to be "the strong personality of a Norm McDonald or Tina Fey." But this is a new gig, and "it will be interesting to see what kind of show he'll have once he has the freedom to shape Late Night as he wants," says Yakas.
What can we expect from Late Night with Seth Meyers? "No decisions have been made yet about whether the format of the show will change in any substantial way," says Bill Carter in The New York Times. Meyers isn't even sure whether he will have a house band — The Roots, Fallon's musical sidekicks, are a hard act to follow.
"I don't want to make any broad pronouncements about how the show is going to be, whether it's going to be the same or different," Meyers tells the Times. "But I have to draw on my background in improvisational comedy and sketch comedy and stand-up comedy and try to find some mix of that." He also hopes to bring to Late Night what he calls "a two-shot with talented, funny people" — interviews with comedian-performers who stop by his desk, probably in character. If you're a fan of Bobby Moynihan's "Drunk Uncle" or Bill Hader's Stefon, for example, that kind of continuity is something to look forward to.
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