Jimmy Fallon returned to his Rockefeller Center studio in July after several months broadcasting from his home, and on Friday he returned to the confines of his house to mark one full year since he started hosting “The Tonight Show” from home as a “quarantine edition.”
Fallon was the first late-night host to begin broadcasting from home after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the first to return to his studio, sans audience, where he continues to combine in-person and virtual interviews.
During those months, Fallon redefined the “Tonight Show” viewing experience, with interviews becoming more intimate while viewers got to know his wife, Nancy Juvonen (who served as camera operator and audience) and the couple’s two young daughters, Frances and Winnie.
Speaking with Deadline, “Tonight” supervising producer Sarah Connell shared what it was like producing those “at-home” episodes.
“When we all said goodbye to each other we really thought we’d be back in two weeks,” she explained. “When it became clear that definitely wasn’t the case, we heard from Jimmy immediately. He wanted to do the show from home to help lift people’s spirits during this time. We also knew that we wanted there to be charitable element to it so we could help people at the same time, so, every night we highlighted a different charity that was helping people through this pandemic.”
Connell highlighted just how different the dynamic became, and how Fallon thrived as he literally reinvented the format right on the spot.
“In the studio, you can hear the audience and feel the energy, there’s instant feedback. The At Home Show was different,” she said. “Suddenly, you now have two people clicking on a Zoom link at the same time, there’s no big ramp up to the moment, it’s just two people hanging out on Zoom from their homes. It was an unusual feeling to let go of that in studio process and welcome this new way of doing things. It set the tone for what Jimmy is best at: connecting and relating to someone while also making the viewers feel like they’re just as much a part of it, especially at a time when we could all use some laughs.”
For the special one-year anniversary episode, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” has partnered with State Farm to support the Feeding America, with State Farm matching up to $100,000 in viewer donations made to the food bank charity.