June 9, 2010, 11:35 pm EDT
Catching a Late-Night Wave, Between Hosts
By BILL CARTER
New York Times TV Specialist
How's this for a crossover act? A late-night star waving across the continent — and across networks – to another late-night star.
In may take two televisions – or a picture in a picture – to capture the precise effect, but Wednesday night at just about 12:42 a.m. Jimmy Fallon on his “Late Night” show on NBC will pull out a big Mickey Mouse glove and wave in the direction of Craig Ferguson on CBS’s “Late Late Show.”
Mr. Ferguson will acknowledge the wave a fraction of a second later with a wave of his own — along with his assessment of how adorable Mr. Fallon is.
If this sounds like an easy bit of late-night camaraderie, it wasn’t. It took a rather complicated bit of dual timing to make something happening on a show that’s taped in New York at about 5:30 eastern time match up with a comment that was taped about three hours later in Los Angeles. And of course, it took a couple of shows, producers – and hosts — to want to do it.
So here’s how it happened. Mr. Ferguson has for about a month been using a giant Mickey glove to wave at his audience at odd moments. Tuesday night, for no special reason, he pulled out the glove and said he was sending wave out to Mr. Fallon.
Sensing a cute idea, Michael Naidus, who produces Mr. Ferguson’s show, reached out to Mike Shoemaker, who produces Mr. Fallon’s, to ask if they would like to reciprocate. Mr. Shoemaker and Mr. Fallon liked the idea.
So at Wednesday’s taping Mr. Fallon paused toward the end of his monologue to say he was aware that his competitor, Mr. Ferguson, had pulled out the glove the previous night and waved at him. Then Mr. Fallon pointed the glove and said Mr. Ferguson shouldn’t be telling him what to do – or it might start another late-night war. Then he paused — and waved with an aw-shucks expression.
Out in California no one could see exactly when the exchange would play, so the shows had to sync up their timing. That meant Mr. Ferguson did an especially short opening to his show. (He usually does an extended opening that leads into a series of commercials, then opening credits, then his monologue. Mr. Fallon, meanwhile gets right on, and commences his monologue, so he is often finished when Mr. Ferguson is just getting started.)
On Wednesday’s show, Mr. Ferguson simply jumps right into the monologue, does about 20 seconds and then acknowledges the wave from the east. He explains that he doesn’t like the notion of late-night wars, and adds, “It’s probably not the place to say it, but I love you, man.”