MTV and MLB hope for a home run with Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave

As part of their 2014 spring lineup, MTV2 introduced a brand new baseball meets pop culture TV series, Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave, which enjoyed its season one opener on Tuesday, April 1 at 11:00 PM EST.  The premiere perfectly coincided with the start of Major League Baseball season, which got into full swing the day before.  This pitch-perfect timing is no mere coincidence.  The show is the first-born creative brainchild of the MLB and MTV, who announced their multi-year multi-platform partnership last November.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

The weekly, 30-minute show is filmed in-studio from the popular MLB Fan Cave nestled on East 4th Street near NYU in New York City and on location throughout the country.  Four dynamic MTV personalities signed up to play host, and ball, including rapper and news reporter, Sway, hip-hop artist, Fat Joe, and two stars of MTV’s Guy Code, model and actress, Melanie Iglesias, and her high-energy comedic cohort, Chris Distefano.

This latest addition to the burgeoning genre of “sports culture” programming moves away from talking head over-analysis and stat streams per usual, and affords viewers a more off the cuff, off the field, sneak peek into the hearts, minds and personal lives of up-and-coming baseball greats and veteran heroes.  Players will engage in banterous in-studio interviews with the emcees, pal around with visiting celebrities, host in-house contests and musical guests, interact on social media with fans, film on location at their favorite hometown haunts and act as the instigators, participants and butts of practical jokes and locker room pranks.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

Bryce Harper, the young, handsome and sometimes divisively aggressive Washington Nationals outfielder, christened the show’s debut with an in-studio appearance and trivia contest in which he had fans sit in barbers chairs and either correctly answer questions about his career or get their heads shaven.  In another segment, petite beauty, Melanie Iglesias, invited hunky Miami Marlins power hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, to an old car junkyard for an unconventional windshield-shattering batting practice.  A third bit had comedian Distefano visiting retirees in order to glean pearls of wisdom about retirement for Derek Jeter, who just began his last ever season as revered Yankees shortstop.

The MLB is optimistic that this good-natured and slightly goofy show will serve to recruit a new generation of baseball fans from MTV2’s mostly male viewing demographic, aged 12 to 34, who are devotedly loyal to the network’s smash hit, Guy Code, the very show from which two of Off the Bats hosts were procured.

Guy Code broke network records in 2013 with its season three premiere garnering an impressive .6 Nielsen rating and earning the title of “most-watched original series” in MTV2’s 18 years on air.  MLB and MTV are hoping that Off the Bat, which copies some of the Codes successful formula of uniting ordinary guys with pop culture icons and pro athletes, will enjoy the same measure of success.

MTV2, part of the MTV Networks under the care of parent company, Viacom, is currently available in more than 80 million U.S. homes.

The show, executive produced by three-time World Series champion and Red Sox designated slugger extraordinaire, David Ortiz, is on pre-order for 30 episodes, which are all scheduled to air in the same Tuesday night 11 PM Eastern standard time slot on MTV2.

David Letterman Announces Retirement in 2015

During the April 3, 2014 taping of CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, the beloved television host announced that he will officially retire in 2015.  Letterman has held this position on CBS since 1993, preceded by his role hosting NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman from 1982 to 1993.

His rise to fame began in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana as an anchor and weatherman for the AM radio station WNTS.  After moving to Los Angeles in 1975, Letterman began his career as a comedy writer.  He became a regular contributor to the summer series The Starland Vocal Band Show, co-starred in a comedy special Peeping Times produced by Barry Levinson, and appeared on shows including Mary Tyler Moore’s variety show Mary, Mork & Mindy, and various game shows.  Through all this, he became a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and soon was hosting his own morning show on NBC: The David Letterman Show.  Though the show was a critical success and earned two Emmys, it was cancelled in 1980 due to poor ratings.

NBC then decided to try Letterman in a different time slot, and thus began Late Night with David Letterman, filming in NBC Studios in New York at 12:30am Monday through Friday.  Its first guest was Bill Murray, and soon developed a cult following for being edgy and unpredictable.  In 1992, Johnny Carson retired, NBC gave the job of hosting The Tonight Show to Jay Leno instead of Letterman as many expected, and as Carson intended.  In response, Letterman left NBC for CBS, and the Late Show with David Letterman was born, taping at 11:30pm at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater.  That marked the beginning of a kind of “Talk Show War” between Leno and Letterman fighting for ratings.  Letterman rebranded himself as a bit more formal, both in terms of his wardrobe and the mood of the program.  He has held this job ever since, also appearing as the host of the Academy Awards in 1995, and re-signing his contract with CBS several times until 2014.  Yet his tenure was not without conflicts.

In October 2009, Letterman revealed on his show that he had been the victim of an attempted extortion of $2 million, threatening to reveal that he had had sexual affairs with several of his female employees.  After Letterman cooperated with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to conduct a sting operation involving a phony check, Robert J. “Joe” Halderman was arrested with the charge of attempted grand larceny, and served a 6-month jail sentence.  Following the event, several prominent women including the co-host of NBC’s The Today Show Kathie Lee Gifford questioned whether Letterman had created an unfair working environment.  Letterman issued a public apology to his wife and staff on October 5, 2009. Through all of this, it is amazing that he kept his position, but CBS time and again renewed his contract.

With Letterman’s retirement, almost all of the remaining late-night hosts will have come from the post-Johnny Carson era.  It is possible that the old style of comedy is no longer relevant, or perhaps Letterman, at age 67, was just ready to step down and enjoy his remaining years.  Just seven years after Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show, he suffered from a severe heart attack and underwent quadruple-bypass surgery.  He became somewhat of a recluse, and died six years later.  Carson was a heavy smoker, and of course we hope that Letterman will not endure a similar fate.  Still, it must not be easy to give up the mantle.

The future of Late Show is presently uncertain.  One potential successor is Craig Ferguson, who has hosted The Late Late Show following Letterman since 2005.  His contract, which expires at the end of the year, calls for either him to replace Letterman or to receive a payout.  Other options include Jon Stewart, who has a huge following, and whose present network Comedy Central is owned by the same company as CBS.  Furthermore, many people are interested in the idea of Chelsea Handler, who has just announced she will be leaving E! where she has hosted Chelsea Lately since 2007.  Other names in the mix are Amy Schumer of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Ellen Degeneres, and Neil Patrick Harris.  There is also talk that the show may move to Los Angeles.

Broadway’s Anna Kendrick to Host SNL on April 5

Anna Kendrick, the multi-talented actress and singer, has been tapped to host Saturday Night Live on April 5, 2014.  This will be her SNL hosting debut.  The telecast will also feature Pharrell, the seven-time Grammy Award winner known for his recent hit “Happy” from the animated film Despicable Me 2.  Created and executive produced by Lorne Michaels, SNL is filmed in front of a live studio audience at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

anna kendrick on SNL Saturday Night LiveAnna Kendrick made her Broadway debut at the age of 12, when she played Dinah Lord in the 1998 production of High Society.  She was nominated for a Tony Award for this performance, but she has not appeared on Broadway since.  Subsequently, her career has mostly been focused on film, yet she has not forgotten her musical roots.  Her screen debut was 2003’s Camp, where she played nerd turned surprise diva Fritzi Wagner.  More recently, her fame skyrocketed due to her role in the a cappella themed film Pitch Perfect, as her performance of the song “Cups (When I’m Gone)” became the number 2 hit on Billboard’s Adult Pop Song Chart.  Furthermore, she has just finishing filming two musical screen roles: Cathy Hyatt in The Last Five Years and Cinderella in Into the Woods, both of which will be released later this year.

anna kendrick on SNL on 04/05/14 on NBC Saturday Night LiveSince its original airing in 1975, NBC’s weekly late night variety and sketch comedy show has often been a place for celebrities to let loose and stretch their versatility.  As such, there has often been an overlap between Broadway actors and SNL hosts.  The record for having hosted SNL the most number of times is held by Alec Baldwin (he hosted 16 times since 1990), who has been on Broadway 5 times.  His Broadway debut was Loot in 1986, and he was recently seen on stage in the 2013 production of Orphans.  Furthermore, many individuals who have hosted the Tony Awards over the years have also served as SNL hosts.  These include Hugh Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, Bernadette Peters, and Rosie O’Donnell, to name a few.  Even Seth MacFarlane, who hosted last year’s musical themed Academy Awards show, has also hosted SNL.

Anna Kendrick at the Toy Awards Red Carpet 2013

The list of Broadway performers who have hosted SNL does not end there.  Many A-list actors have been featured both in Broadway shows and also as the host of SNL.  For example, the stars of The Producers, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, have both served as SNL hosts.  So have Martin Short and Jason Alexander, who played those same roles in the Los Angeles production and US National Tour.  The stars of the film version of Chicago, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, have both hosted SNL.  Furthermore, there are several famous Hollywood actors who are presently appearing on Broadway, who have also served as SNL hosts.  These include James Franco, Alan Cumming, Daniel Radcliffe, and Bryan Cranston, among many more in recent years.

Anna Kendrick may not have been on Broadway since she was 12 years old, but she is nonetheless a beloved star of stage and screen, whose singing chops make her memorable as a musical theatre star.  After she makes her SNL hosting debut, and then appears back-to-back in two major musical film releases, we may see her on the Great White Way once again before too long.

NBC Execs Bully Celebrities To Not Appear On Competing NYC Shows

FALLON’S RATINGS SUCCESS PROMPTS NBC TO STRONG HOLD STARS

There is good news and bad news in the talk show arena.  The good news is for Jimmy Fallon.  His successful ratings have breathed new life into The Tonight Show, so much so, that NBC has begun demanding exclusivity in order for A list guests to appear on the late night program.  The bad news is that other talk shows are going to have a difficult time getting these guests to appear on their lineups.  This moratorium on appearing on other shows doesn’t only include the late night circuit but also the morning talk shows.

jimmy-fallon-jimmy-kimmel wrestle onstage at the Academy Awards 2014For Press Agents this is also bad news. Whenever a star releases a film, a book or is featured on a new television series it is typical to do a press junket.  This allows the star to be seen on as many talk shows as possible to promote their newest venture.  NBC’s proposal will alter the entire method used by press agents to get their stars media attention.  It is interesting to note that by having The Tonight Show relocated to New York City the ability for stars to appear on multiple talk shows in a short period of time increased.  When Jay Leno and Johnny Carson hosted in Los Angeles it required a cross country flight to be seen on Late Night with David Letterman.  The unusual focus of NBC’s move was not to have first rights to a star appearance but to have all rights to a star appearance.

In August a foreshadowing of this type of exclusivity was evident on The Colbert Report when Daft Punk pulled out from the show due to an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards.  Stephen Colbert deftly skewered this type of move, noting that “once you see a band play a song you like, you obviously never want to see them again.”  The sarcasm  can be applied to  the situation with NBC.  It seems likely if you are a fan of George Clooney and he is on Jimmy Fallon you will still turn in if he is on The View.  The fact is that these shows have different demographics, which is the reason public relations personnel are keen to promote on both programs.  People who are watching at midnight are not often the people watching at 8 AM.  Therefore, NBC demand seems to be an unreasonable reach of a non-compete for artists to adhere to.

The other unknown aspect of this new exclusive demand is that no one knows what will happen to an artist if they choose to ignore the exclusivity.  Will Kim Kardashian never appear on The Tonight Show again if she goes on Late Night or The View after visiting Jimmy Fallon?  As no one knows it will land on the artist and agents to decide this issue.  Daft Punk chose not to appear on The Colbert Report but other artists may not adhere to such pressure.  Only time and the ratings will tell.

Celebrity Apprentice Returns to NYC with Season 7

donald trumpAlthough the cast list is yet to be confirmed, filming of Celebrity Apprentice season 7 (also know as Apprentice 14) officially kicked off yesterday in New York City, March 25, at a popular Australian-born bakery franchise, Pie Face, in Manhattan’s Union Square.

Fans spotted outspoken drama mama-of-eight, Kate Gosselin, actress Vivica A. Fox, once upon a time Cosby Show cutie-pie, Keshia Knight Pulliam, TV and radio personality Leeza Gibbons, former Jonas Brother pop star Kevin Jonas, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and two Real Housewives, Brandi Glanville and Kenya Moore, of Beverly Hills and Atlanta fame, baking pies, taking orders, working the door and schmoozing on the floor and sidewalk with customers, fans and celebrity friends during the three hour charity event. This event was shot by NBC staff, but it is not planned to use any of the footage in the actual TV show. The event was a warm up for the main show.

Some other unconfirmed names still swirling around social media sites and celebrity gossip mills are Grammy Award-winning rap star Ludacris, soap opera hottie Lorenzo Lamas, volleyball great and fashion model Gabrielle Reece, maverick journalist Geraldo Rivera and the funny man with a funny voice, Gilbert Gottfried. Megan Hauserman, from the ill-fated Megan Wants A Millionaire, was also slated to be on the show. Ms Hauserman’s show was cancelled mid-run through its season in 2009 due to the murder-suicide perpetrated by Ryan Jenkins, one of the contestants on the show. Mr Jenkins reportedly came in third position in that show.

Despite occasional chirpings of a take-over by his daughter, Ivanka, the imposing figurehead of this charity-driven reality based game show will remain none other than real-estate mogul, Donald Trump himself.  But even The Donald cannot do it alone and seeks trusted advisement from his heavy-hitting board members including sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric F. Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and long-time business and legal counsel, George Ross.  Past advisors have also featured previous show winners such as soon- to-be former CNN host, Piers Morgan, who made an appearance at yesterday’s event.

Celebrity Apprentice is a successful 2008 series offshoot of The Apprentice, created to re-energize the original show concept and spark new viewer interest.  Celebrity Apprentice features proven business-savvy celebrity contestants — many, but not all of whom have been out of the limelight for some years — as they engage in a cutthroat fight to the finish, gunning hard to be the last person standing in the boardroom, and procuring the grand prize of a bonus $250,000 to be awarded to their cherished charity.Piers Morgan has been quoted that contestants are paid around $16,000 for three weeks of shooting on the show.

America’s Got Talent Returns to Film in the NYC Area

America’s Got Talent, NBC’s #1 summertime smash hit, broke big news and new ground yesterday, announcing that the show’s exciting second round of competition will film in front of a live TV audience at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden from April 3 through April 6, 2014.

America's Got Talent with Howard Stern, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B. ,Howie Mandell

Complimentary VIP and regular tickets are still available in limited quantities to the general public via NBC’s website.  These tickets are expected to go pretty quickly, however, as metro area AGT fans are eager to bear historical witness as the remaining contestants audition live, right before their very eyes and those of the make-or-break ‘em celebrity judges, in order to secure the highly-coveted final spots in the upcoming season.

The ninth summer incarnation of this blockbuster variety show is expected to be even more riveting than ever before.  From October last through February, our great country was crisscrossed and fine-tooth combed for dynamic personalities and wholly unique skill sets.  Contestants were talent-scouted during open call auditions in 11 U.S. cities as big, small and diverse as Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Greensboro, Houston, Indianapolis, L.A. Miami, Nashville, New York and Providence, which only strengthens the stance that AGT truly is an equal-opportunity opportunity-provider, open to anyone of “any age” with “any talent” and “any dream” from anywhere.

This democratic philosophy prophetically proved true in 2012, when AGT co-creator, the nefarious Simon Cowell of American Idol notoriety, in conjunction with top NBC execs, made the big, bold decision to relocate his six-year-old show from its left coast locale in Burbank, CA to the greater NY metropolitan area.  The big wigs believed that in addition to doing season seven’s newly acquired judge and shock jock extraordinaire, Howard Stern, a large logistical favor, the move would favor the show, as well, infusing it with an inevitably edgy New York feel and attitude, and rewarding its long-standing East Coast fans with their rightful piece of the live action.

And they were correct on all accounts.  Last summer’s broadcast from New York’s Radio City Music Hall proved a rousing ratings success.  And Howard Stern, who has since vocalized his appreciation for the geographical accommodations, decided in an on-air radio announcement last November, to return to the show for “one more season” and keep the fab five, which includes handsome host Nick Cannon, ever-affable Howie Mandell of Deal or No Deal fame, supermodel Heidi Klum of Victoria’s Secret reverence, and newest cool kid in the clubhouse, former Spice Girl, Mel B., alive for another round of spectacular theatricality.

The two-hour season premiere of NBC’s America’s Got Talent is scheduled for Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 8/7c and will feature scenes from the shows shot at the show dates listed above.

Superheroes Land in New York as TV Pilots Break Records

TV Show Production

Since taking the helm as New York State Governor in 2011, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has applied aggressive out-of-the-box creative thinking to the reformation and revitalization of the state’s beleaguered economic infrastructure.  In a heroic effort to sever sole financial reliance on the vilified Wall Street alliance, Cuomo has turned starry eyes to the entertainment industry for fiscal rescue, instead.  In order to attract and entice out of-state TV and Film production companies to make magic in the metropolis of NY, Governor Cuomo set the bait with virtually impossible-to-refuse tax breaks and incentives.

And he may have just pulled off a heroic coup.  Only a few short weeks ago, the governor proudly announced that mega entertainment moguls Walt Disney and Marvel Entertainment have agreed to film four exciting new live-action TV series this coming summer, right here on the nitty, gritty streets of New York City.   A projected 60 episodes will feature the four most popular superheroes from Marvel Comic’s beloved Defender series and will air on Netflix starting in 2015.

This $200 million dollar venture, which the governor’s office deems “the largest film or television production project commitment in New York State history,” is expected to infuse millions of dollars into the local and state economy, generate thousands of full and part-time industry and non-industry related jobs and provide a substantial boost to New York’s hospitality and tourism industries.  To put it this way, even the pizza delivery guy wins out.

And as if this wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, New York had already surpassed L.A. this year in the number of new TV pilots filmed on location, with a grand total of 15 (including 10 dramas and 5 comedies) compared to L.A.’s current handful.

As some Californians quake in the revelation that L.A. is no longer the end all, be all bedrock of TV and film, fingers and tongues have wagged at both coasts of the country.  Some folks have accusingly called Governor Cuomo’s tax breaks pathetic lures and Hollywood handouts, while yet others have bemoaned and criticized California Governor Jerry Brown’s resistance to taking the same innovative initiative and incentivize.

New York may be becoming Hollywood East instead of an entertainment epicenter in its own right, but Cuomo doesn’t seem to mind.

And what of The Tonight Show’s recent relocation from Burbank, CA to its swanky new studio at the infamous 30 Rock in NYC?  Well, while the new contract did include a hefty $20+ million tax break for NBC, which could not have hurt in the final decision making process, it might also pay to remember that the show actually originated in the heart of the city in the 1950’s, pre-Johnny Carson.  The move also makes sense for its new host, Jimmy Fallon, a devoted NY-native who has said he would feel “out of place” in L.A.  Hey, if he’s happy, we are likely to be happy, too.

And I bet if you asked Marvel Comics hero Daredevil how he feels about filming in New York, he’d remind you that he is Hell’s Kitchen born and raised.

Nick Lachey Becomes New Host of VH1′s Big Morning Buzz

VH1’s first ever morning show has a new host and it’s all happening in NYC.  Nick Lachey, who burst onto the scene in the mid-nineties as the lead singer of the boy band 98 Degrees, began his stint as host of VH1’s Big Morning Buzz on March 3, 2014.

Nick Lachey on VH1 Big Morning Buzz

Since 98 Degrees broke up in 2003, Nick solidified his household-name status by co-starring with his then-wife Jessica Simpson on the early celebrity reality show Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica, and he also launched his solo career in 2003, with his most successful single to date being the 2006 hit song “What’s Left of Me” from the album of the same name.  98 Degrees, which has sold over 10 million records, reunited in 2012 after a 9-year hiatus, releasing an album called 2.0 and embarking on a sold-out U.S. tour in summer 2013 along with the bands Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block.

In taking the lead at Big Morning Buzz, Lachey succeeds the show’s original host Carrie Keagan, who led the show for 400 live episodes.  Keagan announced her departure 10 days after airing her last show on December 20, 2013.  For now, Lachey is only committed for the spring season, but that has the possibility of being extended.  This is not the first time Lachey has served as host of a television show – in 2009 and 2010, he hosted three seasons of NBC’s singing competition show The Sing-Off.  Furthermore, he produced a musical reality show called Taking the Stage which premiered on MTV in 2009, documenting the lives of high school performing arts students.  Lachey also has a long-standing relationship with VH1, including his role on the Entertainment Council for the network’s Save the Music Foundation.

Big Morning Buzz is the only morning show that offers daily live music performance, in addition to delivering hot topics in entertainment news and inviting celebrity guests.  Whereas Carrie Keagan regularly co-hosted with Australian TV personality Jason Dundas, Lachey will take on a revolving set of co-hosts throughout this spring season.  For the show’s March 3rd premiere, the guest slate included a celeb interview with Sophia Bush, a musical performance by Grammy-nominated rock band The Fray, a host chat with Adrienne Bailon and Eden Grinshpan, and a lifestyle chat with entertainment reporters Jack Rico and Jackie Miranne.  This past week’s guests included celeb interviews with Lori Loughlin, Wilmer Valderrama, Mekhi Phifer, Kristen Bell, and Chris Lowell, as well as live performances by Ledisi, Bad Things featuring Shaun White, Sara Evans, Scars on 45, and The National.

The show is filmed live at VH1’s Times Square Studios at One Astor Plaza in New York City, in the “Uptown Studio” where MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL) was famously filmed throughout that show’s run from 1998 to 2008.  15 years ago, Nick Lachey was a frequent guest of TRL with his band 98 Degrees, and he now returns to the studio that launched his career – but this time he is the one asking the questions.

Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show” Premieres On NBC To Great Fanfare

Jimmy Fallon on NBC's Tonight Show

It would have been hard for him to disappoint us.  On February 17th, 2014 Jimmy Fallon delighted audiences with an altogether successful inauguration as the new host of NBC’s The Tonight Show.  Stepping into the shoes worn by Jay Leno for 22 of the past 23 years, Fallon may not have struck a perfect balance between nervousness and humility in his first night on the job, yet he won us over with his coy charm and genuine gratitude for the opportunity to star in America’s longest running entertainment program. With Fallon’s initiation, the show has returned from Los Angeles to New York City, its original home from 1954 to 1972.  This has allowed Fallon to remain nearby his hometown of Saugerties in upstate New York – which made it relatively convenient for his parents Jim and Gloria Fallon, who sat proudly in the studio audience, to attend the premiere.  In Fallon’s opening monologue, he introduced himself as a 39 year-old man who lives in New York City with his beautiful wife Nancy and six month-old daughter Winnie, who is the best thing to have ever happened to him.  All in all, he succeeded in presenting himself as a loveable family man to whom the American public can’t help but relate.

jimmy-fallon-tonight-show

In one of the show’s more memorable bits, Fallon remarks that a buddy of his bet him $100 he would never host The Tonight Show.  Immediately, out walks an impressive procession of Hollywood stars and media icons, handing him $100: Robert DeNiro, Tina Fey, Joe Namath, Rudy Giuliani, Mariah Carey, Tracy Morgan, Joan Rivers, Kim Kardashian, Seth Rogen, Lindsay Lohan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Tyson, Lady Gaga, and finally, Stephen Colbert – who opted to spill 10,000 pennies over Fallon, including in his shirt.

In addition to being a major crowd pleaser, this episode served to contextualize Fallon as not only a nice young man, but one who must be really, incredibly cool to have so many famous friends show up for the occasion.  This also helped ground the new The Tonight Show amongst the particularly New York A-list.  Other celebrity appearances included Will Smith, who danced beside Fallon to demonstrate the ‘Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing,’ and U2, who played two songs in front of the New York skyline atop Rockefeller Center, harking back to the Beatles’ final concert on the rooftop of London’s Apple building in 1969.

Fallon’s premiere earned the third highest-ever ratings for The Tonight Show, with 11.3 million viewers tuning in.  The second highest was in May 2009 when Jay Leno stepped down as host for Conan O’Brien’s famously short-lived run, before Leno returned to the position one year later.  The highest was this past February 6th, when Leno retired for apparently the final time (14.6 million people watched).  Fallon’s debut likely benefited from its post-Winter Olympics placement, though that pushed it a half hour later than its regular 11:35pm timeslot.  In comparison to Fallon’s final episode of Late Night, which he hosted for 5 years, his The Tonight Show ratings were higher by 71 percent with an additional 6.6 million viewers.

Jimmy Fallon and Steven Colbert on The Tonight Show

These statistics do not necessarily include all the viewers of segments on YouTube, Hulu, or NBC’s own website.  One of Fallon’s best qualities is his ability to create share-worthy clips that are hilarious out of context, often which make serious people do silly things.  Still, for Fallon to stay atop his game in this new The Tonight Show job, he will need to appeal to the show’s middle-aged Middle America audience, while maintaining his viral fascination.  After all, the argument for Conan O’Brien to step down in 2010 so soon after beginning his tenure was that he had terminally narrow appeal, failing to please the older demographic.  Still, in just four years, our entire culture has become much more YouTube-centric, and perhaps Fallon’s internet-friendly strategy will be enough to keep him afloat.

 

Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis Planning NYC Cooking TV Show

Bobby Flay and fellow Food Network star, Giada DeLaurentiisCelebrity chef Bobby Flay and fellow Food Network star, Giada De Laurentiis are developing a new TV show in New York City, currently working-titled as “Flay’s Fillet” or “Giada DeLicious” or just “Gastro Garage”.

Sources indicate that “Gastro Garage” is a cross between “Live, with Kelly & Michael”  and Emeril Legasse’s “Emeril Live” – so, the show pitches hot topics in between cooking segments appealing to ‘MasterChef’ quality cooks. What is interesting is that both shows it’s modeled after contain the word “live” in their title- suggesting that “Gastro Garage” is going to be very live, complete with kitchen accidents, which sadly, Giada is no stranger to.

The show’s format seems to be distancing itself from the dumbed-down cooking approach that Rachael Ray and the Barefoot Contessa have provided to viewers looking for cooking-meets-lifestyle TV shows, with dishes easy enough that even the Kardashians could master. “Gastro Garage” will be going after seasoned chefs that will know the difference between a whisk and a colander and don’t need to be told about either. Comparatively, another TV show “The Kitchen” currently provides the high road for gastro fans, but lacks the electricity that exists between Flay and De Laurentiis that clearly transfers to TV beautifully – well in the TV pilot at least.

The show celebrates the collaboration between Flay’s New American style to cooking and De Laurentiis’s classic Italian approach. In the recently shot pilot, some sparks did fly on the set, with De Laurentiis setting fire to the souffle and the fire extinguisher was needed to calm the flames and the stars’ nerves. It’s expected that guest stars on the show will include many of Flay’s and Giada’s celebrity friends including John Mayer, Drake, Tyson Beckford, and Matt Lauer.

It’s rumored that the show will operate out of Emeril’s old Food Network studio in the Chelsea Market- this being an ideal central location for TV audiences to travel to and a wonderful array of fresh produce available in the food market below the studio. When Flay “runs out” of black pepper, it’s anticipated that he will run down to the market with a camera and shoot the whole scene of choosing the perfect black pepper to adorn his culinary creation, all while talking lifestyle and politics. And all of it live.

No deal is in place yet with a production company, but it will almost certainly will be shot out of New York City given that the Flay restaurants need Bobby to continue to steer the ship; Bar Americain, Mesa Grill, Bobby’s Burger Palace, and his new NOHO project, Gato, all need the captain at hand. Giada lives and works in NYC and given that she has a family here too, she has no intention of spending weeks away in Hollywood shooting the show, even the cost savings to The Food Network are huge..

Giada has a huge following herself with her “Giada at Home” show on Food network, her Academia Barilla premium pasta line, and her huge food and homeware deal with Target. She won a daytime Emmy award in 2008 for outstanding lifestyle host and she has become a mentor to the Food Network’s other up-and-coming chefs. Originally trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, De Laurentiis famously cut her finger on a live TV show on Thanksgiving 2013 and then started feeling dizzy. She starting losing copious amounts of blood and passed out off-set. A couple of hours later she was all stitched up and ready to shoot the next show. She also has written a children’s book and loves to spend time with her husband, Todd Thompson, and her daughter Jade.

Flay is no stranger to TV either. As well as his Iron Chef appearances he did a stint on HBO’s Entourage where he played Mrs. Ari Gold’s love interest. His restaurant was also featured in the show. He reportedly received no payment for this appearance, but his businesses received a great deal of publicity.