"The Tonight Show" host is being pushed to try new things in response to "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" beating Fallon in overall viewers for a fifth straight week. "The Tonight Show" still leads "The Late Show" in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo, but a source told Page Six the numbers are still getting to Fallon. "He freaks out over this. He has to be on top."
Another source told Page Six, "[Fallon] is feeling the pressure. I mean, Stephen Colbert is now beating him in a big way and he has to change his format to keep up because he's losing viewers. They had to figure out a way to get Trump [into his routine] because he's too weak on Trump, and viewers are going elsewhere. [He's been] uncomfortable talking about politics, and that's not what the people want."
Fallon's "Tonight Show" is more about lighthearted banter and games than politics, although he does do a great Trump impression. He took some heat for being too soft on Trump when DT was a guest during the campaign. But others appreciate that Fallon keeps things light, and they may not like the idea of him being pressured to get more political.
An NBC rep simply praised Fallon's entire team for keeping "The Tonight Show" "fresh and entertaining," and still another source kept things positive to say Fallon is a fan of Colbert and there's no rivalry or changes based on viewerships. "We always strive to unveil new sketch material," this person told Page Six. "We have as much fun doing political humor as we do skewering pop culture. ...We love Stephen's show. They're doing great stuff. There's no shortage of material every night."
It wasn't that long ago that Colbert was the one facing tough questions, shortly after he took over for David Letterman. Colbert's performance was called "uneven" even by CBS execs, and there was chatter that the network might give his timeslot to James Corden. But that talk is gone. (Never mind politics; it was probably kissing Andrew Garfield that turned things around for Colbert.)
"The Tonight Show" is in repeats this week, and tonight (Thursday, March 9) they have a replay of the Feb. 16 show with Jessica Biel, Ricky Martin, Robert Irwin, Rag'n'Bone Man, and Chad Smith. "The Late Show" is new, with guests Kristen Stewart, Maz Jobrani, and Dawes.
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