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‘Tonight Show’ debut rates high for Fallon

Wed., Feb. 19, 2014

Jimmy Fallon appears with Joan Rivers during his “The Tonight Show” debut on Monday in New York. (Associated Press)
Jimmy Fallon appears with Joan Rivers during his “The Tonight Show” debut on Monday in New York. (Associated Press)

Jimmy Fallon officially took over the “Tonight Show” Monday night – and brought in a big audience.

About 11.3-million people tuned in to Fallon’s heavily publicized “Tonight Show” kickoff on NBC, according to early numbers from Nielsen, following the network’s prime-time coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Though the Olympics lead-in probably helped Fallon’s numbers, that’s a solid sampling for the new host, coming after Jay Leno drew 14.6 million on the last night of his 22-year run earlier this month.

Fallon’s debut was the late-night talk institution’s second-biggest audience since May 2009, when 11.9 million watched Leno exit the show for the first time before the botched handoff to Conan O’Brien.

Among key 18-to-49-year-old viewers, Fallon matched the last Leno night, scoring a rating of 3.8. That’s the best number for the show in the advertiser-desired demo since the last time O’Brien hosted.

Washington finds more acting time

Now that his children are grown, you can expect to see a lot more of Denzel Washington on Broadway.

The Tony- and Oscar-winning actor, who is set to portray Walter Lee Younger in Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play “A Raisin in the Sun,” is lately finding more time for theater work.

“Up until nine years ago, I hadn’t been here in 15 years, from 1990 until 2005. Basically, that was because of raising my kids, my wife and I,” Washington said Tuesday.

He added: “It’s impossible to commute from California to New York, or New York to California doing an eight-show week schedule. So once they got old enough, I could start coming back.”

Washington last appeared on Broadway in the 2010 revival of August Wilson’s “Fences,” where he picked up a best actor Tony.

Before coming back to Broadway in 2005 to play Brutus in “Julius Caesar,” Washington hadn’t appeared on a Broadway stage since 1988.

“I’ve been back three times in nine years. And I’ll be back again, hopefully,” Washington said.

The birthday bunch

Singer Smokey Robinson is 74. Singer Lou Christie is 71. Rock musician Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell) is 66. Talk show host Lorianne Crook is 57. Actor Leslie David Baker (TV: “The Office”) is 56. Britain’s Prince Andrew is 54. Singer Seal is 51. Actress Justine Bateman is 48. Actor Benicio Del Toro is 47.


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