Fallon's journey to the top began in Albany

Posted at: 04/04/2013 12:02 AM
Updated at: 04/04/2013 6:13 PM
By: Dan Levy


ALBANY - It's a new chapter for one of the most storied shows in television history. NBC announced Wednesday that Jimmy Fallon, a graduate of Albany's College of Saint Rose, will replace Jay Leno next year as host of the Tonight Show.

Long before Fallon became a household name, he began his career right here in Albany.

The year was 1994. That's when local businessman Donald Metzner decided to produce a sketch comedy program for local tv called Metroland's Loose Camera.

"The whole point of the show was that hopefully some talented local people could use it as a stepping stone to make it in the entertainment business," said Metzner, who regular job is that of a car dealer at Albany's Armory Garage. "I never in a million years thought the next Johnnie Carson would come out of it."

The next Johnnie Carson Metzner referred to is Fallon, then a 19-year old student at the College of Saint Rose. It was a job that Fallon very nearly didn't get.

"We put an ad in the paper for an audition and believe it or not," Metzner said, "(The director) didn't pick him."

Fallon asked for a second chance, handing a tape to Metzner of a stand-up act he recorded at Saint Rose. Metzner says he was blown away by what he saw.

"I said to the director, "You have to give this guy a shot on the show," Metzner recalls.

Fallon wound up writing everything, starring in everything, according to Metzner

After gaining enough confidence in performing, Fallon dropped out of school and headed to the West Coast where, after plenty of time, and plenty of rejections, he got his break, parlaying his goofy charm and spot-on mimicry in a job on Saturday Night Live.

Soon movie producers came calling and eventually Fallon landed his own late tonight television show.

Even with all the fame, Fallon has returned to Albany several times, once in May 2009 to pick up an honorary doctorate degree from Saint Rose and a few times to attend Metzner's parties.

"I thought it couldn't happen to a nicer guy," Metzner says, "The guy is just an incredible, likeable, decent, good person who happens to be very, very funny."

The Tonight Show starring  Jimmy Fallon begins in the spring of 2014. When it does, it'll be taped in New York City with Fallon's old boss from his Saturday Night Live days, Lorne Michaels, in charge as executive producer.