NBC’s The Tonight Show Returns To New York With Jimmy Fallon At The Helm

Jimmy Fallon Brings the Tnight Show To New York City

Known for his madcap skits on SNL with Justin Timberlake and his youthful stand-up style, Jimmy Fallon has been tasked with bringing The Tonight Show back to New York City after a 50 year hiatus. The show has lived for over five decades in Los Angeles, with Jay Leno most recently at the helm.

It all started with the The Tonight Show with Steve Allen in New York back in 1954. Jack Paar took the show over a few years later and and then Johnny Carson moved the show from New York to Hollywood in 1962. It hasn’t been back to New York City since. Jay Leno and David Letterman had their famed “Late Night Wars” where they fought over the show (Johnny Carson wanted to give it to Letterman, but NBC execs decided otherwise) and now Jay Leno ends his tenure with his two-decade run on The Tonight Show February 6, 2014 with his final guests Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks. Just a few days later on February 17, Jimmy Fallon begins his version of The Tonight Show at midnight. (It’s been placed after NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics for that week, returning to a regular time slot of 11pm the following week).

Jimmy Fallon is lucky enough to have a great lead-in with the Olympics coverage and is anticipated to include some wonderful guests including Sean Connery, Ringo Starr, Madonna, Aaron Paul, and George Clooney. (It’s hoped that NBC’s coverage of the Olympics is better than it has been over the last few years, because this apparent benefit of lead-in ratings could well become a negative if NBC screws it up again. For example, showing events that took place over 24 hours ago, inexplicably cutting away from the highly anticipated Opening Ceremonies to a Ryan Seacrest interview instead, and so on and so forth.)

the tonight show starring Jimmy FallonAs for the void that that Jimmy Fallon leaves at his show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers takes Jimmy’s old slot and so begins yet another round of late show musical chairs. The very first time NBC executives tried to replace Leno was back in June 2009, and it was a complete disaster. They replaced Leno with Conan O’Brien – but with Conan’s lack of mainstream appeal and the NBC executives lack of stomach… (were these really the same  NBC executives that were responsible for green-lighting the sleeper-hit Seinfeld? they must have just gotten lucky) NBC gave it an early bath and landed Conan with a reported $12 Million settlement deal and his own a show on TBS a year later when his NBC non-compete contract expired.

This time around, NBC executives think they can do a better job and Jimmy Fallon gets a try at the brass ring. No word yet on what the backup plan is this time if Fallon fails to garner market share; perhaps Jay Leno is still under contract if Jimmy’s viewer numbers don’t pan out?

Tickets to The Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon, which is being shot at the NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York, are available at the NBC ticket desk by calling (212) 664-3056. Generally, tickets are booked about 4-6 weeks in advance from the actual taping. Please call Monday-Friday (9am-5pm ET) for availability. Standby tickets are always fair game for these kinds of shows in New York City, but anticipate higher than normal demand at the start of the run, giving way to a reasonable ticket demand as the show settles in.

For a New York Sightseeing Tour, Helicopters May Not be the Best Option

New York HelicopterHard on the heels about the ruling on bus sightseeing tours (tour buses will have to revert to headphones rather than loudspeaker systems) comes a ruling about helicopter tours in the city.
Yesterday, the city’s Economic Development Corporation announced that helicopter tours would be cut down significantly in response to complaints about the noise generated by the choppers. The five helicopter companies that operate out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport will no longer will be allowed to fly over Brooklyn, the Empire State Building, or Central Park. In addition, tours under eight minutes, which make up about 15 to 20 percent of all flights, will also be a banned. The latter tours have represented the biggest hassle for residents in Brooklyn; they often went by the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
Helicopter operators will have to follow one of two new routes, which are designed to keep the copters flying higher over the Hudson River. The new plan would also make it easier for city residents to call 311 to complain about helicopter noise and for the calls to be tracked.
Complaints about the frequency and level of noise from helicopter routes have increased since April 1, when helicopter flights were relocated from the West Side Heliport. As a result, the number of flights–and the amount of noise–has increased exponentially.
The Economic Development Council and the Eastern Region Helicopter Council will enforce the regulations. Operators who don’t follow the new rules could have their licenses taken away and also face fines.
If you’re planning a day out in New York, you might want to consider using your own two feet.

Speak Softly, and Point Out Those Sights in a Whisper

New York Tour BusWhat did she just say? Carrie Bradshaw did what over there? Who ate at that Italian restaurant?
If you’re planning on hopping aboard a New York City sightseeing bus for a tour, questions like that may become more commonplace in the future. The City Council is expected to vote into law today a new rule banning open-air tour bus guides from conversing with the tourists aboard with a loudspeaker. City councilwoman Gale Brewster, who represents part of the West Village, sponsored the bill, saying that the noise from the loudspeakers is so loud it can be heard inside buildings.
Another supporter points out that the bus engines also contribute a huge amount of noise. Residents from a number of (largely upscale) neighborhoods have protested the noise from the buses for quite a while, saying that if you live on or near a bus route, the noise can be heard no matter what floor you live on. The noise also affects those who live near historic districts that are often pointed out on bus tours. Areas such as SoHo and the Village are among those affected.
The tour bus companies, not surprisingly, are not too happy about the proposed law; some officials estimate that it will cost between three and five million dollars to install a new system in which riders would listen through headphones to the guides.
New York has 250 licensed tour buses, about 150 of which have tops that are open in warm weather.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill into law; if it passes, buses will have several years in which to comply.

Want to Film in New York? You May Have to Pay a Fee

Film CrewsFilm and TV crews are a common sight in New York City, as a slew of TV shows, commercials, and movies are regularly shot all across the five boroughs.
Until now, however, the right to film here has largely been free.
That’s right–access to city-owned parks, streets and other locales have been there for the taking to TV and movie producers and even students making independent films or music videos.
Budget cuts, however, are forcing the city to come up with new ways to make up the lost revenue, and film permits may now be subject to a $300 fee.
If the fee is approved, TV producers would have to pay the amount once per season, while filmmakers would pay the fee once for the duration of shooting–no matter if it’s an NYU production or the sequel to a major zillion-dollar blockbuster.
While the fee may seem surprisingly low, it’s meant to make it easier for smaller producers and directors to be able to come up with the money and not look elsewhere to film.
Some exceptions would apply: Films using hand-held cameras or taking up a tiny amount of space wouldn’t have to pay the fee, and producers can apply for an exemption based on financial hardship.
The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting had to cut $155,000 from its $2 million budget this year. Most city agencies were ordered last month to cut 7.2 percent of their budgets
TV Shows like “Gossip Girl” and big-budget films such as “Sex and The City” regularly film in New York.

Shut Off a Light, Save the Planet: It’s Earth Day

Earth Day 2010OK, New York: Flick off those lights, turn off that faucet, pick up that litter. Yes, you should do that every day, but today is Earth Day (the 40th anniversary, no less) so it’s time to take stock of your impact on the planet.
For starters, you can head over to Grand Central Station (42nd Steeet and Park Avenue). Two days of Earth Day events start tomorrow: The Earth Fair (Friday; 12-7 pm; Saturday; 11-5 pm) celebrates with music, art, “green” vendors and more. But you don’t have to wait until then: Earth show images are being projected onto two of the north columns of the concourse, and will run 10 hours a day.
In New York’s Central Park, free Earth Day events are happening all day. Check out the Chess & Checkers House (mid-Park at 64th Street); where you can participate in eco-friendly crafts from 2-4 PM. (Call 212 794-4064.)
You can also view an exhibit called “Under the Canopy: Caring for Central Park’s Trees” at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center (110th Street and Lenox Avenue); learn about the Park’s 24,000 trees. (Go to centralparknyc.org for more information on Earth Day events.)
Stores around the city are also getting involved: you can visit a green pop-up shop at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (625 8th Avenue) through May 1; or, for a larger-scale event, stop by Times Square between 11am and 2 pm for a public celebration today
FYI, Earth Day began in April, 1970 as a way to raise awareness about such environmental problems as pollution and ozone depletion.
Forty years later, everyone’s involvement is no less important.
Tomorrow: How museums and arts organizations around the city are getting involved in preserving the planet.

Gun Control Laws Use Haunting Images to Make Their Point

Mayor BloombergMayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun control organization partly overseen by New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is using footage from the Columbine High School shootings to get their point across. The organization counts more than 500 mayors from across the country as part of their group, which seeks to prevent the purchase and dissemination of illegally obtained guns by criminals. Their aim is to develop laws, practices, and policies that will allow Americans to own guns, but prevent criminals from possessing them illegally. Mayors who belong to the group come from a diverse range of locations , including Orlando, Florida; Portsmouth, VA; St. Paul, MN; and Vista, CA.
More than $250,000 will be spent on ads to air on cable TV stations. The ads, which feature video shot by surveillance cameras at Columbine High School, started running yesterday in states including Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts and Virginia, in order to reach the senators of those states.
The ads make the point that four of the guns used in those horrific shootings were purchased at gun shows, where background checks are not required when purchasing a firearm.
Last year, more than $1.5 million was spent by New York City on detectives who went undercover at gun shows and bought weapons. The detectives even told the sellers that they wouldn’t pass a background check.
Congress has not been able to push through laws requiring background checks for gun purchasers. A spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA) said that background checks at gun shows would take too long, and also hamper the rights of gun owners who purchased their weapons legally.

The Muppets are in Town–But Don’t Expect Kermit or Miss Piggy

Brian HensonThese are not your parents’ Muppets…or maybe they are. “Stuffed and Unstrung,” an adults-only show now playing at New York’s Union Square Theater (100 East 17th Street; 212 505-0700), presents the Muppets the way many people have never seen them. The lead puppeteer is Brian Henson, son of famed Muppets’ creator Jim Henson. And while the Muppets are most famous for their TV show, movies, and break-out characters like Fozzy Bear, Sam the Eagle and of course, Kermit and Miss Piggy, the original Muppets actually started life as a group of characters aimed at adults. (Early appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Ed Sullivan” were aimed at adults, not kids.)
The new show is totally improvisational and relies heavily on audience participation. Unlike many puppet shows (even good ones) the audience actually gets to see how the puppets work. There’s also a large screen for those in the audience who merely want to watch the sketches and not the in-between stuff.
Though billed as a kind of wild comedy/variety show for grown-ups, it’s also a chance to watch the performers working on the fly and off the cuff. The six puppeteers improvise songs and routines based on the audience’s suggestions, right then and there. The show morphed from a class for the puppeteers to work on their skills.
Caveat: Do not expect the kind of humor that permeated “Sesame Street” or the Muppet Show at Disney World. Puppets have found a fair amount of success in the New York theater world during the last few years, with such shows as “Avenue Q” making it big.
For more information, you can go to their website: stuffedandunstrung.com.

Take Out Their Own Garbage? As a Strike Looms, New Yorkers May Have to

New York City DoormanA million New Yorkers may soon be opening their own building doors, taking out their own garbage, doing their own repairs, and hailing their own cabs, as 30,000 workers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island prepare to go on strike. The contracts for the workers at 3,200 apartment buildings across the city expire on Wednesdays; workers include doormen, concierges, porters, and handymen.
The workers, who largely serve upscale buildings, are members of 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. They have voted to walk off the job if contract negotiations reach an impasse.
Meetings were held across the city this past week, as they discussed both picket line rules and legal issues.
Building owners say they have been affected by the recession, and are asking that the workers reduce the number of sick days from 10 to five, and also pay for 10 percent of family health insurance. Eliminating pensions for new employees is also under consideration, as is denying new workers full pay for five years. The Realty Advisory Board, which represents the building owners, says that costs are going up and income is going down, with real estate taxes rising, rents being cut, and apartments losing value.
Workers say that their current salaries are not enough to cover the costs of raising a family in the city. In addition, they worry that older workers have a strong chance of being laid off, since hiring new ones would ultimately cost less.
Contract negotiations are taking place at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Stay tuned—and get ready to pick up your own dry cleaning…

In the Heights Broadway Show Review

Show Summary
The vibrant northern Manhattan neighborhood known as Washington Heights comes to thrilling life in this rhythmic and heartfelt Broadway musical about the denizens of a changing community.

Broadway Review
One of the most exciting Broadway musicals of the last several years, the Tony Award-winning sensation In the Heights has an original musical score by Broadway newcomer Lin-Manuel Miranda that includes Latin, hip-hop, and good old-fashioned showtune ballads. With Andy Blankenbuehler’s electric choreography and energetic performances by a diverse and talented cast, In the Heights brings the flavor of New York City’s streets to the Broadway stage.

Governors Island Finally Has a Plan–and College There May be an Option

Governors IslandNew York’s Governor David Paterson and New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a plan yesterday for the future of Governors Island, the former military base that sits a half mile off the edge of lower Manhattan. It served first as an army base, and later, as a base for the Coast Guard. Negotiations over the future of the island went on for more than a year.
A 2.2 mile promenade will be developed along the waterfront, and 87 acres will be preserved as open space. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2012. Other possible additions include a high school, some commercial areas, and a satellite campus of New York University. Other tenants are also being sought.
Mayor Bloomberg will appoint nine of the Board’s 13 new members, and the redevelopment is seen as a huge coup for his administration–and his legacy.
Under the transfer agreement a casino is not an option.
In 2003, most of the island was given to New York State; New York City will be primarily responsible for developing the island. A battle for control of the island has been waged for some time.
The 22-acre Governors Island National Monument is managed by the National Park Service.
The island can be accessed by a free ferry service and is open to the public during the summer and early fall. It opens in June for the season.
Last year, more than 275,000 visitors took the ferry to Governors Island, to attend concerts and festivals, visit the monument, which includes two historic forts–or simply hang out and admire the views.
The redevelopment is expected to cost $200 million.