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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Jimmy Fallon makes Tonight Show debut

Posted: 17 Feb 2014 11:00 PM PST

The long-running show is also back in New York after many decades.

Jimmy Fallon took the reins of the long-running Tonight Show on Monday night, bringing NBC's late night talk show flagship back to Manhattan, New York, after an absence of more than 40 years, being welcomed on set by a host of top stars, including Robert De Niro, Mike Tyson and Lady Gaga.

The surprise appearances, which also included Tina Fey, Joan Rivers, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Sarah Jessica Parker, Joe Namath and Steve Colbert, were among highlights of Fallon's Tonight Show debut, following the departure this month of long-serving host Jay Leno.

The slew of unannounced walk-ons followed Fallon's remark that someone owed him US$100 (RM320) after betting he would never host the Tonight Show, at which point De Niro, then others strode on stage one after another, each plunking bills onto his desk until finally Colbert doused him with a bucket of pennies.

Actor Will Smith and Irish band U2 were the Brooklyn-born Fallon's first official, previously announced guests as the former Saturday Night Live comic launched the show's widely anticipated return to Manhattan's Rockefeller Center.

Fallon and Stephen Colbert take selfies on the set of the 'Tonight Show'. -- NBC

Joan Rivers was one of the surprise guest appearances at the show. -- NBC 

Fallon's stepping into one of the most visible roles in television marked NBC's second attempt to imbue the competitive late-night landscape on US television with a more youthful vibe by appealing to the coveted 18-to-34 year-old demographic.

"I'm Jimmy Fallon and I'll be your host – for now," Fallon told the audience in the new multi-million dollar studio where such beloved Tonight veterans Johnny Carson and Jack Paar once presided.

It was one of a handful of references to the show's recent troubled history. Leno was initially replaced by Conan O'Brien in 2009, but he returned months later in a public relations debacle for the network.

He also paid tribute to the show's previous hosts by name, being sure to mention Leno twice – once before, and once after, O'Brien.

"If you guys let me stick around long enough, maybe I'll get the hang of it," joked Fallon, who wore an understated gray suit, white shirt and blue tie for his first show.

From the outset, the New York Tonight Show boldly embraced its new home.

Brooklyn-raised director Spike Lee shot a new opening, a stirring series of black-and-white night shots that gave way to colourful depictions of such iconic locations as Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Terminal and Rockefeller Center.

The new set, with a dramatic Manhattan skyline backdrop, befit its Rockefeller Center location.

And when it came time for U2 to perform its new single, Invisible, the band took to 30 Rock's rooftop at sunset.

Scores of fans rocked to the beat with such New York landmarks as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Times Square providing a glittering backdrop. Even Mother Nature cooperated, with crystal clear skies and a burnished sunset over New Jersey on a cold, winter dusk.

Irish rock band U2 performed on the show. -- NBC

But in other ways, Fallon's Tonight Show hewed to tradition. An opening monologue featured topical issues – chiefly the Olympics, which also happen to be airing on NBC – and a chat with Smith touched on the actor's recent adventures skydiving, and more on the Olympics.

"I think I could win a gold medal in the things with the broom," Smith laughed, referring to the curling competition.

When the four members of U2 joined Fallon for a chat after their rousing al fresco performance, Fallon, 39, asked "Was that the highest you've ever been?"

Earlier, Fallon introduced what seemed likely to become a regular feature, Tonight Show Superlatives, in which photos – in this case, again, Olympic athletes – were paired with "most likely to" high school yearbook-style captions.

The Tonight Show first aired on NBC in 1954 from New York with host Steve Allen. Paar hosted the show from 1957 until Carson took over in 1962, and reigned for 30 years, before departing in 1992. Carson moved the show to southern California in 1972.

In its final Burbank days, the Tonight Show drew about 3.9 million viewers per episode.

First Lady Michelle Obama is among the guests scheduled for this week, along with Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake, Jerry Seinfeld, Kristen Wiig and Lady Gaga. — Reuters

Downton Abbey adds new characters

Posted: 18 Feb 2014 12:30 AM PST

Some new faces will be introduced in the upcoming fifth season.

Downton Abbey has become a regular Airbnb vacation home.

It was announced last week by the show's makers – Masterpiece on PBS and Carnival Films – that three new cast members are joining the show in Season 5.

British actor Richard E. Grant will join the cast as Simon Bricker, who visits the wavering estate as a guest of the Crawleys. It's a world Grant is quite familiar with, demonstrating his footman skills in 2001's Gosford Park, which was penned by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. Perhaps Fellowes got the hint from Grant's 2012 interview with the Independent?

"I know Julian," Grant said then. "But I was never asked, I've never been up for it. Maybe next series."

Also getting in the upstairs/downstairs mix are Anna Chancellor (The Hour, Four Weddings And A Funeral), who joins in a guest role as Lady Anstruther, as well as Rade Sherbedgia (Eyes Wide Shut, 24), who will play a Russian refugee.

Those behind the show are skimpy on details of the characters. But executive producer Gareth Neame, in a canned statement, offered this vote of confidence: "We are delighted to welcome these talented actors to the world of Downton. The characters they play are set to bring yet more excitement and intrigue to the show."

The fourth season of Downton Abbey is currently airing and concludes Feb 23. Its two-hour season opener brought in 10.2 million viewers.

The new season is set to follow the same hair-pulling rollout schedule: A British launch in the fall, followed by a winter debut in the US. — Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Clone Wars moves to Netflix

Posted: 17 Feb 2014 08:00 AM PST

The show's unaired sixth season will be shown on the streaming service Netflix.

THE unaired sixth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars will begin on the streaming service Netflix on March 7, reports.

The first five seasons of the animated series aired on Cartoon Network. The previous season ended with one of the main characters, Anakin Skywalker's padawan Ahsoka Tano, leaving the Jedi Order after feeling profoundly let down by her masters and going off to seek her own path.

There's no mention of Ahsoka in the list of 13 Season Six episodes, which are grouped under the title The Lost Missions.

According to Netflix, the upcoming season will reveal "some of the deepest mysteries of the conflict between the Light and the Dark sides of the Force."

Among the story arcs: an intrepid clone trooper cadet will discover a shocking secret; Anakin Skywalker's closest relationship will be tested to its limits (we figure it's because an old flame of Padme Amidala shows up); and Yoda's investigation of a Jedi Master's disappearance could forever change the balance of power in the galaxy.

The season will culminate in a multi-part tale with Yoda finding the origin of the Force and then journeying to Korriban, the ancient birthplace of the Sith.


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