EXCLUSIVE: Jimmy Fallon has become the first late-night host to get back to the studio as The Tonight Show returns to 30 Rock.
Fallon returned to a modified Studio 6A to film tonight’s episode of NBC late-night show and he and the show’s house band The Roots will continue to film in the New York studio with a limited crew.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was Fallon’s first guest back and, in a video interview shot over Zoom, welcomed him back, saying “New York is really open now that you’re doing your show again” (see full clip below). Other guests include Charlize Theron and a performance from Little Big Town.
This comes four months after the host started filming At Home editions of his show.
The production will employ social distancing as well as all of the health and safety guidelines as approved by New York authorities. The majority of staff will continue to work from home, and there will be no audience.
The show’s studio return comes as the city has dramatically improved its situation with COVID-19. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported zero deaths on Saturday.
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon launched its At Home Edition on March 17 initially with hybrid episodes before segueing to full episodes filmed at his house.
Fallon’s wife Flower Films co-founder Nancy Juvonen helped film the show with his kids Franny and Winnie becoming break out stars. He had guests on including Adam Sandler, who sang a quarantine song at the beginning of the lockdown as well as the likes of Miley Cyrus, Alec Baldwin and Jose Andres.
Showrunner Gavin Purcell told Deadline in April about the evolution of the quarantine-produced show. “These shows are about reflecting what’s going on in the world and we’re leaning into how people are living right,” he said. “Creatively, we’re trying to go in different directions but emotionally, we’re also trying to figure out what we’re doing is right for right now. You want to be a place where people can enjoy, but it’s also a safe landing place for people.”
In his Tonight Show interview, Cuomo admitted that New York City “went through hell and back”. “We went from having the worst infection rate in the country, we now have the best infection rate so we really turned the corner. New Yorkers stepped up,” he added. “We tamed the beast, we just have to cross our fingers and hope that it stays there.”
Cuomo said New York had a different approach to many other states. “You had the President of the United States basically denying that the virus existed. I believe he played politics with it, you have these other states rush to reopen like there was no problem but there was a problem. You can;t deal with a virus politically, you have to be smart, you have to get it under control, you have to close down and people.”
Fallon jokingly asked Cuomo at what phase was he in with regards to dating after splitting from his longtime partner, TV chef Sandra Lee. “I think New York City will be full reopened before I get out of phase 0 on dating,” Cuomo replied.