Will the Fatman Sing?

Back by popular demand – three people have asked whatever happened to it? – The Marvin Kitman Show returns today for a second new episode.

I haven’t been the biggest fan of Jimmy Fallon since he began on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” in January. His first week was one flop sweater after another. I didn’t think he’d make it, but he got over his shaking knees. He is an entertaining fellow, light, funny, inventive, but without the gravitas of Jay Leno.

I still haven’t figured out why NBC wanted to get rid of Jay Leno so badly. He had that wonderful Johnny Carson knack of having his finger on the nation’s pulse, where NBC executives had their fingers on their thumbs. His ratings were still excellent, as were Johnny’s. “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry” was NBC’s traditional way of treating its icons.

Leno used to be one of the most trusted sources of news for Generation Y. The triumvirate of Jay, Dave and Jon tapped into veins of irony, which were the only way to deal with all the insane things happening in the world before they came on at 11:30, telling us things like “Scalia fell out of Cheney’s pocket.” The most trusted source of news today seems to be Twitter.

Jimmy Fallon hasn’t risen to that height yet. He is nice to his guests. That means he will get better bookings than the competition, and is a pleasant fellow to fall asleep to, the other basic function of late night talk shows. Fallon is like a glass of warm milk and a Mallomar or three. Not the place I usually go to for guidance on heavy political matters.

Nevertheless, I will be watching the show tonight. Among Jimmy’s featured guests— comedian Chris Rock and country musician Kacey Musgrave –will be the best governor New Jersey currently has. Chris Christie will be sitting for his fourth interview with Fallon, the first on the “Tonight” gig.

It will be a tough act for the governor to top after Fallon’s cheer- leading performance with Honey Boo Boo and Mama June. Not to mention Baby Winnie. Politics junkies like me are wondering about the meaning of the governor’s visit at this point in time?

Well, it certainly shows he bears no grudges. Fallon and the guv’s idol, Bruce Springsteen, mocked the hell out of him in January with their ode to the GWB Scandal (“They shut down the Tollbooths of Glory…”) with Fallon playing the governor and the Boss pounding the chorus.

Will he respond to the Fallon-Springsteen withering criticism, seeming to accept the notion that he was somehow guilty in the Fort Lee lane closures? As any legal scholar knows who has read the 3,000 pages of the first and only exhaustive study of the case by the governor’s own law firm, it was one of those he-didn’t-do-it mysteries solved.

No, I assume the intent of the governor’s dropping by his pal Fallon’s show is to explain in an uninterrupted friendly environment to the rest of the nation that he is a reformer, who has cleaned up his state.

Given the chaos of the amazing primary defeat of one of its titular leaders (the late Rep. Cantor), the subtext of his appearance might be to remind the folks out there that he is still available to come to the aid of his party.

Where other potential candidates for national office have used musical talents to call attention to their availability—Nixon played the piano on “The Mike Douglas Show;” Clinton played the sax on “Arsenio Hall” –the governor might do magic tricks. How he managed to balance the state budget –one of his major claims to fame —when it was only $800 million in the red should appeal to the freakonomic wing of the party.

My guess is that he will take the opportunity tonight to deny that he is a candidate, which political science students know is tantamount to throwing one’s hat in the ring.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the governor makes a Sherman-like statement, to the effect that “I do not choose to run, or even jog, for president.” Doctors’ orders. And while he is at it make a clear cut definitive statement that nothing would change his mind except an honest spontaneous unengineered draft movement, engineered by his paid volunteer staff members. Whatever, I will be watching tonight, even if I have to put toothpicks in my eyes to stay awake.


Marvin Kitman
The Executive Producer
June 12, 2014

Marvin Kitman was the media critic at Newsday. His column, “The Marvin Kitman Show,” began on Dec. 7, 1969, a day that still lives in infamy, according to network executives. On April 1, 2005, he stepped down from his position of power. As he explained, “Newsday gave me a tryout, and after 35 years we decided it wasn’t working out.” He is the author of nine books.