(UPDATE: Of course as soon as I hit the “publish” button, the news became official. Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show next spring, and Jimmy Fallon will be taking over the hosting duties. This … this could be awesome. Anyway, this is what I thought when it was only moderately kinda official …)
I’m salivating. I’m sitting here with drool running down my chin thinking about all the possibilities of everything that could go masterfully, wonderfully wrong with the whole Jay Leno-Jimmy Fallon-Seth Meyers succession, and how I’m going to love every single, solitary second of it. It’s going to be the most beautiful train wreck since … the last time NBC effed everything up in its Tonight Show succession plan. How can NBC decide to go down this road again the same way it did three years ago? The mess made by the whole Leno-Conan thing that didn’t go away for almost two years, from the time Conan officially left The Late Night Show in 2009 until the time he went to TBS in November 2010. That was 20 months of hellishly bad publicity for NBC, the loss of any young, hipster credibility they had before since replacing Conan with Leno to anyone under 40 is like telling a LeBron fan that Jon Konkack was a better post player and the overriding reality that they would need to go through this again in less than three years. That’s colossal blunder everyone — including me — let NBC off the hook for in 2010. Even the most ardent Conan fans saw the ratings numbers and knew why NBC was making the change for the short-term. But in the long-term — and three years out isn’t actually long-term — we glossed over that NBC was inevitably going to be stuck in the same, exact predicament pretty soon. That’s what happens when you bring back an old guy (Leno will be 63 this month) who couldn’t reach a young viewer if he had 100-foot arms. I watched Leno the other night to see my friend Jason Farmer on it. It was the first time I had watched Leno in years, I just find him painfully unfunny. I decided I’d watch the monologue with an open mind, and see if he’d gotten any better, edgier or funnier. He has not. He may have gotten worse, if that’s possible. I honestly wonder how he gets people in the audience to laugh at him. And that’s the guy NBC decided to bring back at the risk of going through another 18 months of awful publicity just three years later. You’d like to think Leno had more of a say in it this time and went to NBC himself and said, “I’m done, let’s do this,” but it doesn’t seem that way the way Leno’s skewering the network on pretty much a nightly basis. Four years ago, there’s no way NBC could possibly have seen the avalanche of sh!t that was about to come its way. Now they know. And it certainly seems like they’re headed right back into it. At least Leno and Fallon are having fun with it.
There might not be a more together, competent movie studio than Marvel right now. It’s a lesson in how to run a movie studio. Someone — be it Stan Lee, whomever at Disney, or studio head Kevin Fiege — had a vision, laid it out on the table and told everyone else who works there to make it happen. And that’s exactly what happened. That vision is being executed flawlessly right now (right, for Natalie Portman in Thor, that goes without saying) and Marvel is already touting its visions for “Phase 2,” which starts with Iron Man 3 in May and then includes Thor 2 in November, Captain America 2 in April 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy in August 2014 and Avengers 2 in May of 2015. That’s a money-making factory of movies — and it’s only Phase 2. There’s still a Phase 3! And though that’s all that’s planned right now, you can bet that in some office of Marvel, there is someone whose only job is to read every Avengers comic book ever made to come up with the best scenario for Phase 4, with an Avengers 4 premiering in 2021. By that time, Robert Downey Jr. will be 56 and ready to hand off to the West Coast Avengers to start a whole new phase keeping some of the team intact (Hawkeye, Ant-Man) and introduce a whole new set of characters (Wonder Man, Mockingbird). Why no one ever seriously attempted to make comic book movies other than Batman and Superman is beyond me.
I’m getting ready to name This is the End as my most anticipated movie of the summer over Iron Man 3, the Wolverine and Man of Steel. How can this thing go wrong??? I didn’t laugh as much at the second trailer as I did at the first trailer (which I still think is a first-ballot Trailer Hall of Fame lock), and I think Craig Robinson could end up bringing the whole movie down from what the trailers have shown. But this looks like the funniest movie since The Hangover, at least in the trailers. If it goes wrong, it will be my biggest disappointment of the summer.
You know who won’t be disappointed with anything in the movie? Emma Watson, who certainly seems like she’s about to engineer the most impressive image change in years. She curses like a sailor in the trailer for This is the End, and that’s just in the trailer. Then Danny McBride makes fun of her (“Hermione just stole all our sh!t“). She’s got a Sophia Coppola indie movie coming out in April in which she plays a bad @ss. And how is she starting her promotion tour of the whole thing? By sporting midriff tattoos half nekked on the cover of GQ. Bravo! She needs to give her management team a raise, right now, no questions asked. By the end of the summer, you won’t even remember she was in some wizard-magic-something movie. Wait, what was it called again?
Wanna hear something shocking? HBO decided to renew Game of Thrones for a fourth season after it delivered its biggest audience yet for the season premiere on Sunday. I know, right? It’s crazy! HBO has probably found its next big thing.
In news I’d rather ignore but can’t seem to, the Finding Nemo sequel is going to be called Finding Dory. Great! I thought Pixar would just stick to the formula and have them find Nemo again. But as long as they’re looking for a completely different fish, then yeah, the whole thing will be different now. I’m in!
Got too busy with other stuff to post The Wolverine trailer that premiered last week, but maybe that’s because it’s the most blah trailer for a comic book movie I’ve seen in a while. It’s almost like they didn’t even try. “Here’s Wolverine, here’s his claws, here he is with his shirt off, we know you’re showing up, whatevs, is this thing over yet?” You would think with a whole new chapter of the life of Wolverine, the potential to keep this going in a new set of X-Men movies, his appearance in the X-Men sequel — wouldn’t they want to get this right and kick off a whole new Wolverine? That’s what the movie is supposed to be, a whole new Wolverine. But if it is, we don’t get much of a hint of that. Looks like the same old, same old, introducing some new mutants and making Wolverine fight them. Didn’t the audience (and especially fans) already reject that idea with the first Wolverine spinoff? Well, guess what, we get to do it all again this time. You would think Fox would do everything in its power to make sure that wouldn’t be the message sent with the initial trailer, but it sure looks like that’s what’s happening to me. TRAILER GRADE: C-