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Justin Saves Fallon in Unimpressive Debut


Jimmy Fallon owes Justin Timberlake big time. Timberlake's singing impressions of John Mayer and Michael McDonald were the highlight of Monday's premiere of NBC's "Late Show with Jimmy Fallon."

Indeed, Justin was so relaxed and so entertaining that he looked like a better choice to replace Conan O'Brien than Fallon.

The one bit featuring the likable Fallon that worked well was his "slow jamming" a news item in his monologue about the stimulus package with Tariq of the house band The Roots. And Tariq actually is the one who best made it work.

An opening bit in which Conan was packing in the dressing room to make way for Fallon had one good line. When Fallon asked Conan if he would be getting Jay Leno's dressing room when he takes over "The Tonight Show" in California, O'Brien replied sadly: "Jay isn't leaving." Of course, Leno will have a prime time show in the fall.

But the much-publicized first interview with Robert DeNiro went off as awkwardly as expected. The legendary film star wasn't quite as distant and reluctant to talk as Joaquin Phoenix, but his brief answers to Fallon's questions put him in the neighborhood.

All the pre-show talk about the high-tech ways that Fallon's show would seek to attract younger viewers weren't immediately visible. There wasn't anything on the show that spoke to young viewers, unless you count a laughless, sophomoric bit in which members of the studio audience were asked to lick a lawnmower, a copier and a fish bowl for a $10 bill.

Fallon is living in a fish bowl bowl and his every move will be judged. It isn't fair to judge him off one awkward, nervous episode, but he didn't exactly make a strong first impression.

What did you think of his first show? Would you stay up to watch his show on a regular basis?

-- Alan Pergament

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