Obama, Jimmy Fallon slow-jam the news


Jimmy Fallon hosts President Obama on late-night show. (LLOYD BISHOP/NBC)
April 25, 2012

Based on early projections, it appears that about 2 million people watched Jimmy Fallon and President Obama slow-jam the news on Fallon’s NBC late-night show.

It was Obama’s first appearance on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.” The show traveled to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the broadcast Tuesday night.

The episode clocked the show’s best numbers in two years in household ratings in the country’s “metered markets” (of which Washington is one), NBC boasted Wednesday morning.

It bested the show’s Tuesday season average by about 30 percent and did even better than that among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers who are the currency of broadcast TV, though they’re only a slice of the 18-to-dead audience — the currency of Obama’s reelection bid.

If these local-market averages translate nationally the way “Late Night” does typically, Obama’s visit would wind up with roughly 2 million viewers.

That number could change, what with a POTUS appearance maybe skewing toward those major markets that are “metered” — or toward older viewers (who tend to be more interested in political programming). Nielsen won’t actually put out final numbers on Obama’s slow-jam of the news until a week from Thursday.

“You guys might have seen this in the news, but President Obama has asked Congress to stop the interest rate on Stafford student loans from going up this summer,” Fallon told an adoring college crowd toward the top of the Obama episode.

“I was going to make a joke about this news, but I don’t think it needs a joke. . . . That’s right, I want to slow-jam the news. And I’m not the only one!”

The curtain opened. Out walked Obama.

“I’m President Barack Obama. And I, too, want to slow-jam the news!” said Obama as the audience roared its approval. Backed by the show’s band, the Roots, they broke into the routine:

OBAMA: On July 1st of this year, the interest rates on Stafford student loans, the same loans that many of you use to help pay for college, are set to double. . . . I’ve called on Congress to prevent this from happening. What we’ve said is simple: Now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people.

FALLON: Aww yeah! You should listen to the president — or, as I like to call him, the Preezy of the United Steezy. . . . Things are heating up inside of Congress’s chambers, behind all those closed doors. So the president made a few discreet calls across the aisle. He said: “Hey, let’s get together on this one.” . . .

(“If Congress doesn’t act, it’s the students who pay. The right and left should join on this, like Kim and Kanye,” sang the Roots singer Tariq Trotter, a.k.a. Black Thought.)

OBAMA: Now there’s some in Congress who disagree. They say keeping the interest rate low isn’t the way to help our students. They say we should be doing everything we can to pay down the national debt. Well, so long as it doesn’t include taxing billionaires. But their position is that students just have to make this rate increase work. Frankly, I don’t buy it.

FALLON: Mmm-mmm-mmm! The Barackness Monster ain’t buying it. We all know our legislative bodies in the House, tossing and turning late into the night, but still Republicans disagree and could even filibuster. But, if they do, the president said, they’re gonna feel it, buster.

(“The GOP is steady saying, ‘No, no, no!’ They should find something new to do, like Tim Tebow,” Trotter sang.)

After finishing the bit and a commercial break, Fallon, who’d been giddy since Obama first walked onstage, began to “interview” him. And by “interview,” we mean Fallon suggested that Obama deliberately fall while getting off Air Force One because it would be really funny — like the time President George W. Bush choked on the pretzel. Obama said he didn’t find it funny.

Then they spoke a few minutes about the handful of Secret Service “knuckleheads” with the hookers in Cartagena, Colombia — setting off a tsunami of “knucklehead” blog posts and tweets by The Reporters Who Cover Obama.

Fallon said he really likes Obama’s house. “It’s a rental,” Obama replied. Fallon giggled.

Finally, Fallon began pitching Twitter questions to Obama.

@BoboBrian asked Obama whether he was “going to legalize weed or what?” Then Fallon wondered how Obama’s doing with the whole “stop smoking” thing. The host then tried to use that to segue into some gag about Colombia and the Secret Service scandal and nicotine patches but made a botch of it with all the giggling and gushing.

We’ve seen tween girls more poised around Justin Bieber.

Couric’s Yahoo series

On the heels of Katie Couric’s much-ballyhooed guest-anchoring of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” ABC News announced Wednesday that she will host a weekly digital video series from ABC News and Yahoo — which will be featured on a dedicated page on Yahoo.

In each episode of “Katie’s Take,” the ABC News special correspondent will provide her own “fun and unique” perspective on the subjects of health, nutrition, parenting and “wellness.” Look for exciting episodes that examine the myth of “healthy” snacks, the dangers of over-parenting, the correlation between menopause and sleeplessness, and special segments on fitness and finance, ABC News said.

“I am happy to have found a place in the digital world where I can cut through fads and trends,” Couric said in the announcement.

“Poland Spring, along with our other regional 100% natural spring water brands — Arrowhead®, Deer Park®, Ice Mountain®, Ozarka®, and Zephyrhills® — are born better,” added Poland Spring Brand Manager Sarah Linden. Poland Spring Natural Spring Water is the series’ exclusive launch partner.

Last summer, Couric signed a deal with ABC parent Disney to host a new syndicated daytime TV show that launches in September. That contract also puts her to work for ABC News — hence the much-covered “GMA” guest gig while Robin Roberts vacationed.

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
tvblog
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