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First night for 'Tonight Show' host Jimmy Fallon

By: FRAZIER MOORE, AP Television Writer
February 17, 2014 Updated: February 17, 2014 at 7:35 pm
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photo - FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file)
FILE - This Jan. 13, 2013 file photo shows Jay Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," left, and Jimmy Fallon, host of "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" backstage at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif. On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, Leno, 63, is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for his successor, Fallon, in New York. Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight Show" on Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, file) 

NEW YORK — Little more than a week after exiting "Late Night," Jimmy Fallon makes his much-anticipated debut Monday as host of NBC's "Tonight Show," as the venerable TV institution returns to New York after four decades based on the West Coast.

Scheduled guests are U2 and Will Smith, with the show reclaiming Rockefeller Center's Studio 6B, where "Tonight" aired during its early Johnny Carson years.

Fallon, who had hosted "Late Night" since 2009, moves up to the job Jay Leno held for much of the past 22 years until his recent departure from the "Tonight" host chair.

The 39-year-old Fallon first found stardom as a cast member and "Weekend Update" co-anchor on "Saturday Night Live." He left "SNL" in 2004 to pursue a movie career, but he was met with less success in that arena.

Despite the excitement surrounding his new "Tonight" stint (much of it expressed by Fallon himself), he has also emphasized that "Tonight" under his regime won't be notably different from the show his "Late Night" had evolved into.

Although airing an hour earlier than "Late Night" (but this week seen at a special time, midnight Eastern), "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" will feature many of the same comic bits, the same house band, the Roots, and announcer-sidekick Steve Higgins.

Filling the vacancy left by Fallon at "Late Night" will be fellow "SNL" alum Seth Meyers, who signs on as host next Monday, with Fred Armisen, yet another former "SNL"-er, as band leader.

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