Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel's first HD guests

As previously reported, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" will finally make the transition to high def on April 14. We found out who his guests will be that night: Jorge Garcia ("Lost"); the latest "Dancing With the Stars" castoff; and rapper Mims.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jimmy Kimmel to broadcast in HD next month!

If this blog can be said to have rallied behind a cause, it is the desire to have every talk show broadcast in HD -- but we've been especially critical of ABC and CBS for not giving some high definition love to Jimmy Kimmel and Craig Ferguson. Well, Craig, the gauntlet has been thrown down, because Blink (we got the news via TVBarn's Twitter feed) just reported that Kimmel's show will go HD on April 14. We are excited, even if it means "JKL" will take up more space on Talk Show News's TiVo. We're looking forward to seeing Celebrity in a Box, Uncle Frank's Mission Impossible, and Cousin Sal's hijinks in glorious high def.

Guests of the Week: March 30-April 3, 2009

Did anyone else watch Prince on "The Tonight Show" last week? Is he a magical being from outer space? The guy is 50 years old, and he looks pretty much the same as he did back in the 1980s. It's eerie.

Some of this week's most intriguing talk show guests include:

Michael J. Fox, who will be returning to acting in a guest starring role on "Rescue Me," will chat with Regis and Kelly on Wednesday and David Letterman on Thursday. The "Spinal Tap" guys -- Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer -- sit down with Jay Leno on Wednesday. Seth Rogen plugs his forthcoming movie "Observe & Report," and his voice work in "Monsters vs. Aliens," on "Late Show with David Letterman" on Monday, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Tuesday, "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" on Thursday. Stephen Colbert interviews Twitter founder Biz Stone on Thursday.

Former "Dancing with the Stars" terror Cloris Leachman plugs her autobiography on "Regis and Kelly" on Wednesday, and now that we know about votewoz.com, we fear that it will be a long, long time before Apple co-founder/terrible dancer Steve Wozniak makes the loser's rounds of talk shows. Talk Show News faves Cheryl Burke and Gilles Marini, who we believe will waltz into the final 4, are scheduled to appear with Ellen DeGeneres on Monday and Bonnie Hunt on Friday.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stephen In Space!

The Colbert Nation has done their duty once again and handed Stephen Colbert the most votes in NASA's space module naming contest. "Colbert" received 230,539 votes, beating the second most popular, Serenity, by over 40,000 votes. Of course, NASA reserves the right to decide which name to pick, and it remains to be seen whether they'll allow the faux pundit's name on their module -- which, incidentally, includes a machine designed to turn astronauts' urine into drinkable water.

This isn't Stephen's first brush with NASA; last year, he interviewed astronaut Garrett Reisman through a live link-up from the International Space Station. He has quite a history of trying to get things named after himself, including a Hungarian bridge and a hockey team's mascot.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Conan promos

Out of sight could mean out of mind, so NBC's trying to remind everyone that Conan O'Brien's coming back to TV in a couple of months by airing some new promos, available at ew.com. The first one features Tina Fey; Conan did a guest bit on a first-season episode of her sitcom "30 Rock," "Tracy Does Conan," which happens to be Talk Show News' all-time favorite. "I am a stabbing robot!" "What am I, a farmer?" "Mind grapes." "Blood cookie." But we digress. The second one stars Megan Mullally.

Guests of the Week: March 23-27, 2009

Tune into "Late Show with David Letterman" tonight if you want to hear Dave talk about his marriage. His guests will be Hugh Laurie and Bloc Party. Jay Leno counters with the boys of "American Idol" (Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest). Prince will make three appearances on "The Tonight Show" on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

Mike Myers makes his first talk show appearance, on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," since he was awarded the Razzie for Worst Movie for "The Love Guru." Will Fallon bring it up? Myers has never struck us as a guy with a great sense of humor about that kind of stuff.

"The Daily Show" takes a week off, but you can revisit the show's two highest-profile interviews of the month, with Jim Cramer and Bruce Springsteen, on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

High-profile Bernie Madoff victim Kevin Bacon appears on "The View" on Tuesday.

The latest "Dancing with the Stars" castoff will boogie onto "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Tuesday and "Live with Regis and Kelly" on Thursday. We'd be very, very surprised if it was not Steve Wozniak.

Jennifer Hudson, coming back from some horrible personal tragedies, will sit down with Ellen DeGeneres on Thursday.

Wedding bells finally ring for Dave and Regina

David Letterman "shocked his audience" at the show due to air tonight by revealing that he and longtime girlfriend Regina Lasko had gotten married last week, according to this report. The pair tied the knot at the courthouse in Teton, Mont., not far from their 2,700-acre ranch. Letterman and Lasko have been together for over 20 years and are the parents of a son, Harry, age 5. This is Letterman's second marriage; his first, to Michelle Cook, ended in 1977.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Barack vs. Bruce

President Obama is so polished and cautious in his speaking that the media are always on the alert for any gaffes, so his Special Olympics crack on last night's "Tonight Show" has eclipsed anything he said about AIG or his economic plans. The talkers on the 24-hour cable networks were no doubt rubbing their hands with glee when he made his politically incorrect comment. The president called Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, to apologize -- before the show even hit the airwaves.

We couldn't help but be charmed by Jon Stewart's obvious love and respect for his idol, Bruce Springsteen. Talk Show News was lucky enough to meet The Boss a few years back so we weren't surprised to see that Bruce is only an inch or two taller than the 5'7" Stewart; anyone who's seen him live could be forgiven for thinking that he must be about eight feet tall.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Bruce Springsteen - Interview
Daily Show Full EpisodesImportant Things w/ Demetri MartinPolitical Humor

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ferguson on Fallon's show: "It's high-def and stuff!"

OK, so we've seen a few more ads now for Craig Ferguson's Sunday special, "A Wee Bit O'Revolution." But making the promotional rounds for the comedy show and DVD, Ferguson seems to be enjoying his underdog status.

The AP's Frazier Moore interviewed the Scottish-born comic, and referred to the show as "madness on a shoestring," due to the studio's shortcomings ("the roof leaks, we don't have a band, we don't light the show properly," says Ferguson):

The show's very cheapness is a source of inspiration.

"I complain about it, but I think it's probably been the best thing," says Ferguson. "It allowed us to develop this odd little show which is different from the other shows."

And a world away from the Fallon-era "Late Night," which is based at 30 Rock in New York and comes fully equipped with an eye-popping set, an announcer and a powerhouse seven-piece band, The Roots.

"It's high-def and stuff!" says Ferguson, rolling his eyes in mock amazement. "It's almost like he's making a show in the 21st century!

"But I'm actually kind of pleased that Fallon's doing what he's doing. I think the competition for his show is more Adult Swim (cable network) than me. I don't think we're going for the same audience."
Who will be the last late night network host to go high def -- Ferguson or Kimmel? (Talk Show News doesn't care about Carson Daly.)

"Colbert Report" headed to the Persian Gulf

When Stephen Colbert made a comment about doing his show from the Persian Gulf, we thought it was a gag, but no -- Stephen really is going to be taping his show there. From Stripes Central, via the Comedy Central Insider blog:

"I'm not supposed to tell anyone where I'm going, but just say it's sandy and they'd like us to leave," Colbert told Stars and Stripes on Tuesday.
Former "Daily Show" correspondent Rob Riggle spent a week in Iraq in 2007 taping bits for the show, and it's been reported that Jon Stewart frequently visits war vets at Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ferguson tops Fallon in the ratings

Broadcasting & Cable reports that after a couple of strong debut weeks, "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" overtook "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" in the ratings on Monday night. "Fallon drew a 1.6 rating/6 share to Ferguson's 1.8 rating/6 share."

With viewers having had a couple weeks to check out Fallon's Late Night as well as sample the competition, the ratings are beginning to drop to more average levels for the 12:30 timeslot. Whether Fallon can maintain the consistent 18-49 demo wins that his predecessor brought will likely become clearer in the coming weeks.
Speaking of Ferguson, he's making the TV rounds this week to promote his stand-up special, Craig Ferguson: A Wee Bit O’ Revolution. You'd think Comedy Central would be plugging the heck out of the show, which will debut Sunday at 10 PM. However, Talk Show News has only seen one ad for it, vs. about eight zillion for the Larry the Cable Guy roast which aired last Sunday in the same time slot, and that upcoming "Krod Mandoon" thing. Of course, real Ferguson fans may be holding out for the DVD, which will be out Tuesday, allowing you to enjoy Craig's routine uninterrupted by commercials.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jay Leno: three nights with Prince

Is this a trend? First David Letterman welcomes U2 for a five-night stand, and now NBC has announced that later this month, "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" will feature Prince three shows in a row (March 25-27). The Purple One has been recently been releasing new tunes on his lotusflow3r.com web site.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bigger than Bruce?

OK, so the biggest talk show "get" of the week won't be Bruce Springsteen on "The Daily Show" after all, but President Barack Obama, who will be talking about his economic plan to Jay Leno that same night (Thursday the 19th). Garth Brooks will appear on the same show as the musical guest. It's the president's first sit-down talk show appearance in studio in front of a live audience since becoming elected, according to NBC.

Guests of the Week: March 16-29, 2009

It's a good week if you want to see talk show hosts interviewing other talk show hosts. David Letterman has guest Craig Ferguson on Wednesday; Jay Leno welcomes Keith Olbermann, also on Wednesday; Ferguson sits down with Regis Philbin tonight, while Reege will visit the ladies of "The View" on Friday. Then, to make things even more confusing, Ferguson will be a guest on "Live with Regis and Kelly" on Thursday. Oh, and Carson Daly will appear on "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" on Tuesday. Whew.

Spinal Tap fans should tune into Tavis Smiley's show on Friday, as he'll feature Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean,who are about to hit the road for an acoustic tour. And as previously mentioned, Bruce Springsteen will make his first visit to "The Daily Show" as a guest on Thursday. (Jon Stewart has said Bruce has already attended the program as an audience member.)

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, and if you want to hear some Irish sounds, Dropkick Murphys will stop by Craig Ferguson's "Late Late Show," while Young Dubliners are the musical guests on "Jimmy Kimmel Live."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"SNL" vs. Hawaii

Kind of ironic how we just happened to return from Hawaii and because we weren't watching TV there, happened to miss all the controversy about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Hawaii sketch until we were back on the mainland. In case you were also on vacation and don't know what all the fuss was about, Hawaii's lieutenant governor said the sketch, which featured Johnson and Fred Armisen as hostile, ukelele-playing entertainers in a restaurant filled with tourists, "went too far in its negative depiction of Hawaii's native people and tourism industry."

Here in the San Francisco area, you can't swing a lei without hitting an ad from the Hawaii tourism board. And no wonder; due to the recession, fewer visitors are coming to the islands. Even though some locals may grumble about the pasty white tourists, it's clearly a love/hate relationship -- when people don't vacation in Hawaii, unemployment soars, and it's currently at its highest level in 25 years.

For the record, Talk Show News had a great time on the West Coast of the Big Island, and there are plenty of bargains to be had there right now. No crowds, no high-rise hotels, and a dramatic setting (lots of lava!). Come with an attitude of respect for the land and the culture, and the locals will be happy to share their island with you.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jon Stewart and his big, big, big guest

Did we miss anything?

Talk Show News was in Hawaii for a week and watched no late night TV at all, which means we missed out on the whole Jon Stewart/Jim Cramer smackdown -- until today, when we caught up with the past five episodes on TiVo. Do a Google news search for articles about the show and you'll get over 1,000 hits. One interesting factoid that went unmentioned by most writers (the Wall Street Journal pointed it out, though): Stewart's older brother, Lawrence Leibowitz, works on Wall Street; he's the head of U.S. Markets and Global Technology at NYSE Euronext. (Check out the photo on this page or this one to see the family resemblance.)

But the "big guest" we refer to in the title of this post is The Boss, Bruce Springsteen, who will be making his first appearance as a guest on "TDS" on Thursday, March 19. Doubt it'll attract the incredible amount of attention the Stewart/Cramer show did, but since Jon is a huge Springsteen fan, he's surely looking forward to it a lot more than his showdown with the "Mad Money" host.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Jimmy Fallon: Better the second time around?

Some reporters decided to review Jimmy Fallon's second night as well as the first. Is he showing improvement? Read on and find out:

"[Guest Tina] Fey was, as always, enthusiastic, smart, and funny... Fallon is trying out various bits to see what might stick. He showed a video of a German soccer fashion show and heckled/commented over it, in the manner of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also had his camera operator zoom in on various people in the audience and them placed a Facebook-update frame around each face, with a comment such as ' ...wearing his thong backwards.' I'll just assume that this was Fallon's knowing hommage to the same routine Steve Allen used to do on The Tonight Show a half-century ago, having the camera zoom in on an audience-member while Allen spoke their 'inner thoughts'... This is the way you build a talk show: plundering from the past is a thoroughly acceptable method; so is calling in favors from friends. Pretty soon, though, you have to start coming up with your own format, your own style."
-Ken Tucker, EW.com

"Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was definitely better the second time around last night. But much of the credit for that improvement must be attributed to the difference in lead guests: an animated Tina Fey last night, vs. a Robert De Niro who acted like just showing up was enough on opening night... Bon Jovi was the other big guest, and he came through as well for Fallon... Now the bad news: Fallon didn't have much to do with the good moments last night. When he held the spotlight, the show faltered."
-David Zurawik, BaltimoreSun.com

"Despite spending some time on the road honing his stand-up chops during the show's lengthy preproduction process, his monologue delivery still feels stilted... Tina Fey is a great interview no matter whether she's talking to David Letterman or Rachael Ray, but Fallon did do a good job of engaging her in conversation."
-Mark Graham, NYMag.com

"[T]he Late Night host needed to quit with the over-laughing. The home audience chuckles more easily if Fallon isn't having a conniption every time his guest says something mildly amusing."
-Ryan Tate, Gawker.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Jimmy Fallon: Nervous but happy

Critical round-up of Fallon's debut show. The consensus seems to be a B-/C+: overly scripted, Fallon was nervous, the audience participation bits and monologue were lame, but the host's likability could ultimately carry the day.

"Everyone's first day on the job is bound to be a bit awkward, and even though Fallon has spent months trying out ideas for Late Night on his website, he still looked nervous, his eyes locked onto the cue cards more frequently than at us. He did an ultra-ordinary monologue -- one liners about President Obama and the deficit that sounded like material Jay Leno's writers had faxed over from L.A. ... There was also an audience-participation segment, 'Lick It For Ten,' in which a few folks from the crowd came onstage to lick things like a lawn mower and a goldfish bowl, and Fallon gave them each ten bucks."
-Ken Tucker, EW.com

"Sweaty, tense, uptight, nervous, wound-up, keyed up -- pick an adjective. Any one of them would describe Fallon's demeanor on opening night... On a late-night show, either the non-interview comedic bits have to be inspired, or the interviews have to be smooth (in a perfect world, both halves of the late-night formula succeed). But, with a few exceptions, neither worked all that well during Fallon's first show. The comedy frequently fell flat, and as a host, Fallon is underwhelming at the moment. "
-Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Fallon... returned to the air riding a wave of good will and, after weeks of webisodic testing on the Internet, demonstrated a certain comfort in the role... though his opening night had disappointments, none were crushing or looked potentially fatal. Once Fallon relaxes, hunkers down and lightens up, the new 'Late Night' could win over many a semi-conscious heart and mind."
-Tom Shales, Washington Post

"Fallon went out and did a monologue, delivering mostly bad jokes as stiffly as we might have expected from a guy who's not a stand-up comedian. Although perhaps more stiffly than we might have expected from someone with all that 'SNL' experience... The only time Fallon's 'Late Night' had any real energy was when guest Justin Timberlake was on, and that was because Timberlake seemed so comfortable -- perhaps because so much of his interaction with Fallon was clearly rehearsed... What was most troubling about Fallon's underwhelming debut wasn't just that it was sooooo scripted, but that the script was so lame."
-Scott D. Pierce, Deseret News

"Fallon appeared nervous from start to finish, which is understandable given the inevitable first-night jitters and the pressures of stepping into such a high-profile gig. But throughout the hour, he failed to reveal glimmers of charisma beneath his anxiety -- the Fallon we might encounter on less nerve-wracking nights. With his wide eyes and soft voice, he was just kind of vacant, as blandly nondescript as his predecessor, Conan O’Brien, was present and sharp... Perhaps if the writers step up their game and Fallon relaxes, “Late Night” will find a groove. Maybe the producers should give Fallon a sidekick, someone with whom he can josh and tease. As it is, he seems like a lone deer in the spotlights."
-Matthew Gilbert, Boston.com

"On his opening night, he seemed nervous but happy... It was not a bad beginning, in spite of offering notoriously poor interview Robert De Niro as the first guest... A series of pre-premiere 'test shows'... allowed the host to hit the ground running, or at least not stumbling."
-Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

"He certainly looks eager to make this work -- the dressed up coat and tie look suits him. He has the potential to be a funny presence. But he has to work on the interviewing skills and develop some kind of sincere curiosity about the people he invites on. He could learn from anybody else on TV, even Carson Daly."
-Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant

Highlights and ratings (they were good!) at The Live Feed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Trivia: Talk Show Firsts

In honor of Jimmy Fallon's debut tonight, the folks at TV Tango sent us this fun list of the first-ever guests on 40 different late night talk shows of the past and present.

Can you name the first guests to appear on the debut episodes of these current shows?

1. "Late Show with David Letterman"
2. "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"
3. "Jimmy Kimmel Live"
4. "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson"
5. "The Colbert Report"
6. "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart"
7. "Chelsea Lately"

The answers: 1. Bill Murray; 2. Billy Crystal; 3. George Clooney; 4. David Duchovny; 5. Stone Phillips; 6. Michael J. Fox; 7. Steve-O.

We'd be curious to know who was the first guest to appear on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," but perhaps that info is lost in the mists of time.

Eleanor Holmes Norton thanks Colbert

Stephen Colbert's "nemesis," D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, credits the talk show host with helping bring voting rights to the nation's capital. As reported in the Huffington Post, Norton told Politico: "Stephen Colbert has done more than any other single human being to inform the country, which was largely ignorant of the fact that we do not have the vote. I tell my constituents -- you don't owe it to me, you don't owe it to DC Vote, you owe it to Colbert. You want to talk about sacrifices I've made, I'll let the man beat up on me anytime he wants to just to get the word out."

Of course, we hope Norton never shows that much gratitude to Colbert on his show. Their testy interactions are too much fun.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Guests of the Week: March 2-6, 2009

This week, it's all about the debut of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Now, you may remember that back in January, Craig Ferguson challenged the nation's TV critics to "give Jimmy a month before you review him." You think that's actually gonna happen? No way -- so watch this space Tuesday morning, when we'll present a roundup of the opinions of Jimmy's first show.

David Letterman presents U2 every day this week, and we'll definitely be tuning in on Thursday when Jon Stewart stops by. Leno's most promising show is Tuesday's, with comic legend Bob Newhart, liberal talker Rachel Maddow and 63-year-old soul powerhouse Bettye Lavette on tap. We love the contrast of Ferguson's lineup: Paris Hilton on Monday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Wednesday. You can't get much more rangy than that. We've already covered Fallon's first week of guests. Jon Stewart sits down with Sandra Day O'Connor on Tuesday, while the "Colbert Report" guest we're most looking forward to is Wednesday's: Carl Wilson, who wrote a book about Celine Dion for the music-geeky 33 1/3 series. We couldn't imagine why he was going to appear on "TCR" to plug it, until we were informed that the book received the "Franco Bump" on the Oscars red carpet when nominee James Franco plugged it in an interview.

Over on "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Bonnie Hunt drops by on Wednesday. Jimmy will also feature a post-finale interview with "Bachelor" Jason Mesnick on Monday, while franchise fan Ellen DeGeneres has the first talk show appearance by Mesnick and his chosen lady on Friday. (The bitter runner-up stops by "Ellen" on Thursday.) We don't know who he's picked yet, but based on the series' track record, we give them 4 months.

Talk Show News loves "Dancing with the Stars," and we eagerly await the contestants and pros making the talk show rounds. A taste of things to come, if you will, on Tuesday, when the Ballas Hough Band (that's Mark Ballas and Derek Hough) tries to prove that they can sing and play as well as dance on "The Bonnie Hunt Show."