With Jay Leno stepping down next February and Jimmy Fallon claiming his "Tonight Show" throne, the dust of NBC's late night shakeup may settle with Alec Baldwin nabbing his own hosting gig. The New York Times reports that NBC execs are considering the "30 Rock" actor and frequent SNL host for the 1:35 a.m. spot, now occupied by "Last Call With Carson Daly." If Baldwin does end up moonlighting in the post-midnight slot, what kind of host would he be? Some speculation:
A Stephen Colbert Satirist.
Comedian Stephen Colbert got his late night start as a "correspondent" on Jon Stewart's fake-news show "The Daily Show," before spinning off with his own "The Colbert Report." He plays a right-wing, blowhard pundit — a spoof of the personalities now the norm on cable news — and he holds character from the opening monologue through the interviews, and even in any extracurricular appearances outside the show.
Coincidentally, Baldwin already has his own comically conservative alter-ego: Jack Donaghy , the well-heeled Hercules of capitalism and corporate head of NBC/Kabletown on "30 Rock," which just ended its seven-season run last year. While Colbert is more of a populist, Donaghy is a proud 1 percenter (Nancy Pelosi once called Donaghy an "economic war criminal"). Nevertheless how Donaghy interacts with potential guests is well established, whether he is dealing with needy Liz Lemon creative-types, clueless Tracy Jordan actors, Jenna Maroney divas or Avery-esque media powerhouses.
A Jimmy Fallon Jack of All Trades.
Jimmy Fallon's "Saturday Night Live" pedigree shows on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," as it often adopts a variety show mentality. Fallon sings — excuse me, "slow jams" — the news, dances with the first lady, and often includes his celeb guests in the plethora of other skits he has performed on the show.
Baldwin, likewise, has shown his sketch comedy chops on SNL, hosting a record 16 times. And who doesn't want to see the return of Pete Schweddy and his "Schweddy balls."
A Carson Daly Conversationalist.
Those confused about why NBC is even considering Baldwin in the first place need look no further than the podcasts he hosts for WYNC. On "Here's the Thing," Baldwin is not afraid to get in the weeds with his guests, talking both about their "art" — TV show, movie, play, etc. — as well as the industry side of the entertainment business. His tone is conversational — he often interjects with personal anecdotes about his guests--much like Carson Daly's, whose slot he is rumored to be taking.
Most impressive is the gamut of guests Baldwin hosts, from the A-listers like Lena Dunham, Kristen Wiig and Michael Douglas, to political-media types like George Will or David Brooks, to academics such as scientist Robert Lustig and economist Joseph Stiglitz. He interviewed Michele Bachmann's campaign manager one show and reality television "monager" Kris Kardashian Jenner the next. How's that for range? Baldwin is more of a New Yorker intellectual to Daly's California rocker style. But otherwise the feel and format of "Here's the Thing" and "Last Call" are remarkably similar — both often move their hosts out of the studio and send them to remote locations. And as the New York Times points out, such a model is flexible enough--Daly also hosts "The Voice" — to free up Baldwin for other projects.