At last year's Emmy Awards, Jimmy Fallon fell on his butt — literally, in a planned comic bit as a presenter — so this year he's not taking any chances.
Even with weeks to go before he reports to work for his biggest gig yet — hosting the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards — the former "Saturday Night Live" cast member claims he's more than ready.
"We've written it already!" he declares in a phone interview from New York's 30 Rockefeller Center, where his late-night show originates. "Oh, man, I'm so excited, I want to do this tomorrow. I'm over-prepared; I have too many bits. They won't have time for awards. They'll say, 'Jimmy, I'm sorry, we can't do all of this!'"
Maybe it's the adrenaline of following Neil Patrick Harris — whose debonair hosting style and brilliant song-and-dance opening number helped the award show win big ratings last year — that has Fallon so pumped. Or maybe it's that he's coming off a year in which he feels things are really coming together on his talk show. Either way, he sounds genuinely happy as he anticipates facing a room full of stars on Aug. 29, when the annual television honors, staged at the Nokia Theatre in downtown L.A., will be broadcast live from coast to coast.
"It'll have the spirit of the late-night show," Fallon says of his approach. "I'll do jokes and impressions, and we'll keep it very high-energy and positive and keep it moving, 'cause it's a great event."
If his frantic antics while hosting past MTV movie and video awards are any indication, Fallon's repertoire can be expected to include plenty of parodies set to music, propelled by his impish dance moves and impression-laden vocals. But he's not letting specifics out of the bag. "I don't want to spoil anything," says the comic, who favors a sly, playful approach on his NBC variety show. "But I think this is an awesome year for me to host, because TV has been fantastic this season."
He cites among his favorites two new shows that swept the comedy nominations, "Glee" (19 nominations) and "Modern Family" (14 nominations), as well as pal Amy Poehler's "Parks and Recreation" (two) and returners "30 Rock" (22) and "Mad Men" (17). HBO's miniseries "The Pacific" led all entries with 24 nominations, while Fallon's alma mater "Saturday Night Live" (he left that show's cast in 2004) got 12 nominations.
Meanwhile, his own "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon," now in Season 2, has scored its first prime-time nod, for editing (it was also nominated in the Creative Arts Emmys for interactive media, a category it won last year).
Given his show's reputation for digital savvy, Fallon says the Emmy broadcast can be expected to amp up its new-media quotient. "I think we're going to do live streaming from backstage, so you can see what the winners are saying to the press back there, and we'll do a live Q&A with me during the commercial break, where you can tweet in your questions. It'll be a full-on social media attack," Fallon promises. "We might even use Ustream to show what the writers are doing backstage, when they're coming up with new bits to react to what's happening during the show."
Fallon will be in L.A. for more than a week of rehearsals in late August. He's no stranger. He lived here in the late '90s while performing with the Groundlings, before a successful "Saturday Night Live" audition landed him back in New York. He still raves about the corned beef and pickles at Johnny's Pastrami and the burgers at the Apple Pan.
But though he left "SNL" several years ago to pursue a movie career that hasn't yet amounted to much, Fallon says he won't be taking movie meetings while he's here. "I'm not interested in movies right now. It's all the show, the show, the show," he said, declaring that he's very happy doing "Late Night."
Fallon's skit-heavy talk show premiered in early March last year after fellow "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Conan O'Brien left "Late Night" to take over "The Tonight Show" from Jay Leno.
"I'm really happy with how the show's turning out," Fallon says. "We're settling in now, and we know each other's rhythms. The fans are beginning to really know the bits, and as you build your audience, you can play with them more, because they get your sense of humor. They become like friends."
He speculates that the nightly pressure to entertain has helped him hone his chops in a way that may come in handy when he faces the Emmy audience. "I want everyone to watch," says Fallon. "It should be a party. I'm going to make sure it's good television, and I'm going to have a blast."