Vin Diesel, it turns out, is a pretty weird guy. He was on The Tonight Show last night, and he called himself "shy," and I actually believe him? In the clip, he speaks very deliberately. He overlaughs like a madman. Also, he turns all the way around to halfheartedly ham with whoever is occupying the seat that will forever truly belong to Kevin Eubanks, and it's crazy awkward. Most important: He's 45. 45?! I say this honestly: He looks amazing. There is almost definitely a creepy, moldering, grotesque painting of Vin Diesel stuffed somewhere in the recesses of Vin Diesel's attic.
OK, but now let's get to the actual content of what Diesel was saying. Yes, the actual content! Vin doesn't go on late-night TV to share toothless anecdotes. He goes on late-night TV to speak truths. In response to a question about staying fit, Diesel let it be known that he believes men in Hollywood are under more pressure than women to look good. He's speaking out because it's important. Actors are being driven to use steroids! Diesel doesn't do steroids. No one should ever use steroids. Listen up, body-conscious dudes: "I have a lot of friends that I grew up with that were bouncers that would do steroids that would have to get their ... tits drained."
Last week, we here at Grantland spent an afternoon playing a guessing game. With Jimmy Fallon now confirmed to take over Jay Leno's spot on The Tonight Show, who'd be in line to take Fallon's spot on Late Night? An early consensus had formed around Seth Meyers, but history has taught us to expect the unexpected here (remember, they hired a Simpsons writer in 1993), and so a couple of other ideas were batted around. Leading things off was Bill Simmons picking Alec Baldwin.
Roger Ebert, Pulitzer Prize winner and national treasure, is taking a "leave of presence" by cutting back on his workload as he faces cancer treatments again. He will continue to write selected reviews as well as essays addressing his illness. "It really stinks that the cancer has returned," he writes, "and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness." This is heartbreaking news. Get well soon, you old fart. Love, your fanboys.
Considering the latest we'd heard about the battle for The Tonight Show succession was Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon laughing off the whole thing via a West Side Story parody, you'd have been OK in assuming that the actual, real-deal details of the struggle wouldn't be hashed out for a while. And then, last night, The Hollywood Reporter goes ahead and reports Fallon has already closed his contract to take over Leno's seat. Huh. That was fast.
With the brouhaha over Tonight Show succession still brewing, Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon got together last night — in that little no-man's-land transition area between their respective shows — to squash it musically. Jacking the beat from Bernstein and Sondheim's aptly classic West Side Story joint "Tonight," the two weave a tale of mutual non-competitiveness and everlasting friendship that's some parts "kiiiinda funny" and some parts "just kind of a thing that happened that you'll remember in a few years and be like, 'Oh yeah, that was weird.'" And somewhere, a giant redhead is rolling his eyes.
Winter is coming! But, you know, not for another week. So while our hearts yearn for Westeros, Chris and I are stuck in rural Georgia with the rest of the Mensa candidates fighting zombies on The Walking Dead (8:25). It was interesting to hear how Chris, normally a defender of all things violent and brainless, has turned on the stumbling biters. I'd give him a thumbs-up, but the Governor just bit mine clean off. Besides, I was too busy crying my emo eyes out over the dissolution of My Chemical Romance (21:30), one of the best rock bands of the last decade. It's tough out there for any band, but particularly so one as ambitious as MCR, a group never afraid to play make-believe or with makeup.
When the usually soft Jay Leno starts hitting his network bosses hard, it's clear that change — like winter in Westeros — is coming to the late-night landscape. Today, Bill Carter — the indefatigable biographer of the chattering chat-show class — reports that NBC is once again attempting to formalize the right of Tonight Show succession. (Especially since it worked so well the last time, not to mention the time before.) Carter is reporting that Jimmy Fallon will ascend to the big chair in 2014 when Leno's latest contract ends, and that the show will move to New York. (THR says NBC's debating whether to launch Fallon during February's Winter Olympics or give him more time for the transition.) With the ink barely dry and the other shoes yet to drop (do we really think devoted stand-up Leno will take this latest insult sitting down?), here are three instant reactions to NBC's latest attempt not to shoot itself in the foot.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. They're baaaack. In space, nobody can hear Conan O'Brien scream. Pick any horror movie tagline, really. The point is that, according to the Hollywood Reporter, NBC is once again looking to shore up its late-night future by making plans to ease Jay Leno out the door and install Jimmy Fallon as his 11:35 p.m. replacement by summer 2014.
Late night — as David Letterman, Conan O’Brien’s agent, and not Chevy Chase could tell you — is a long game. More than any other time slot, the witching hour is a place where relationships are forged gradually. After all, you’re not going to let just any white man in a suit see you in those jammies! The only successful changes in the late-night landscape have occurred glacially: Leno slowly oozing his way into Johnny’s chair, for example, or Jon Stewart’s long metamorphosis from niche programming to mainstream mainstay. After NBC’s great Tonight Show debacle of 2010 — a host handoff that was five years in the making and six months in the undoing — things have been relatively quiet on the after-hours battlefield, with the established hosts seemingly content to divvy up slices of an increasingly shrinking viewership pie.
Taylor Swift and John Mayer: "Every guy in Hollywood knows the drill: Cross Taylor Swift and end up with a song about you." Drill Taylor Swift, and risk ending up with a whole album's worth of songs about you. And so John Mayer steps up to defend himself against Swift's "Dear John." He says "It made me feel terrible. Because I didn't deserve it." Get that? He didn't feel terrible because she struck a chord with her lyrics about how he's "an expert at sorry and keeping lines blurry." A "blindsided" Mayer snipes, "it was a really lousy thing for her to do." Funny how he who dishes it out the loudest ("sexual napalm") can't take it for even a second. "It really humiliated me at a time when I'd already been dressed down. I mean, how would you feel if, at the lowest you've ever been, someone kicked you even lower?" I don't know, how would I feel if somebody said they had a "Benetton heart and a fuckin' David Duke cock"? A friend of Swift's says "He played her and now he's claiming he got played? What a loser." Mayer's sources claim Mayer had "thwarted" Swift's advances because "she was too young" and he "didn't feel comfortable going there." Swift's friends tell a different fairy tale. "John was a player and treated her like shit. She felt like he looked at her as a conquest." Mayer's new roots-rock album Born and Raised debuted at no. 1, while Swift recently had a Valentine's Day "pathetic single girls" party. Sure seems like Mayer and Swift are destined for some Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara realness.
As Grantland pointed out yesterday, some sectors of the Internet were upset about the resurrection of Ferris Bueller for a Honda Super Bowl commercial. Certainly, it feels a bit silly to get worked up about the "sacrilegious" use of a fictional comedic character -- like, this person has not died; Ferris Bueller’s family will not be shocked and appalled by his latter day public representation -- but there's a consensus formed. As Jalopnik puts it, “Sorry guys, but Matthew Broderick really was Ferris -- and this ad means Ferris grew up to be a really lame-ass adult.” As far as that goes: The sensitive sweater and shoes, the tai chi in capris, the fact that he plays the bottle-ring-toss game instead of the pop-a-shot at the carnival -- it is all sort of disheartening. And why is he alone? Why doesn’t grown up Ferris have any friends? How much money could Sloane Peterson have been demanding?!
In yesterday’s New York Times, Bill Carter — the Homer of the late night talk show Odyssey — penned a depressing, reality-checking piece about the state of the desks. The takeaway: the era of glib, monologue delivering, band-having, big-chinned raconteurs is over. Comedy Central’s one-two punch of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert — with their innate ability to attract millions of savvy, young eyeballs with nothing more expensive than a brightly-lit set and a staff of nerdy, male Harvard graduates — was the epoch-altering meteor that sealed the dinosaurs’ fate. But according to Carter, the sea-change in entertainment — how we consume it and how much we have to choose from — is what’s hastening their demise. (If you’re a scientist, think of this as the sun-blocking dust kicked up by said meteor. If you’re Michele Bachmann, consider it the legion of diplodocus-hunting ur-men who re-claimed the Earth for the true children of Adam. Either way.)