Not long ago, Seth Meyers received a call that would change his life. He was in Nashville, recently, to do a few interviews. Smiling and friendly, he seemed already at ease when he sat down with Greg Glover to talk about that phone call, the offer to succeed Jimmy Fallon on NBC's Late Show. "I was really lucky that, in this case, they called me," Meyers said. "I also couldn't call them because they refused to give me their phone numbers."
They are some big shoes to fill, as Fallon moves on to The Tonight Show, but it is a great opportunity for this Saturday Night Live veteran and the timing was perfect. "I have been at SNL for over 12 years, and trying to figure out what I was going to do next," explained Meyers, "it's always so hard."
He is no stranger to the format. As a performer and a fan, he learned from the masters. "The thing I think I learned the most from watching David Letterman was," Meyers said, "you're on late at night, there's a real place to be both smart and silly at the same time."
That is a bit he has honed for years at the Weekend Update desk. "We want to tell jokes about the news; what's going on in the world. We also want to find ways for me to continue to play the straight man, because I've always enjoyed that," Meyers added. "We're gonna come up with a hundred ideas and, of course, in that first month, we're gonna try them all and there's maybe gonna be two or three that we want to do a second time."
From Conan O'Brien he learned the value of a strong team of writers who not only pitch jokes, but can come out to play. "We want to build a community recurring, you know, sort of Late Night people that, we're hoping, the viewers will want to see more from.'," said Meyers.
Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, he even talked with Jay Leno about starting with a strong monologue. "To be honest," he explained, "that's the bait that you put on the hook for people who are trying to decide if they're gonna stay up for that next hour."
And of course there will be guests. "We want to not just have people in the entertainment industry. We want to have politicians, we want to have authors, we want to have athletes." And former SNL cast mates. He will be in the same building and they will be available should a scheduled guest have to dump out.
As a matter of fact, his first guest will be fellow SNL alum and friend Amy Poehler. "There's no one that sort of calms my nerves better than Amy," Meyers said with a smile. "She and I have talked," he added. "We want to get a huge movie star second who has to be second to Amy, just for her ego. I think that's really important."
On a side note, with so many Saturday Night Live-ers in late night, sit-coms, and cinema, Greg asked, "Should America worry Lorne Michaels, the brain behind SNL and Seth's new show, is now too powerful; too influential?"
"They should be worried that Lorne is Canadian," Meyers joked, "because this could be a real 'world domination' thing! In a weird way, he could be a sleeper agent. This is the next season of Homeland, is Carrie trying to track Lorne.
"His 30 year plan to take over?" asked Greg.
"They're very patient, Canadians," Meyers deadpanned. "They're in no rush."
While Meyers says it is heartbreaking to leave SNL, he adds excited to be starting his new gig just down the hall and he will still see his friends regularly.. who are, no doubt, already vying to be his heir apparent. "Now that you mention it," said Meyers, "I notice that they're really auditioning for it. That's why they keep coming in and asking me questions. Oh, they're trying to interview!"
Late Night with Seth Meyers begins February 24th, after the Olympics, right here on Channel 3. Jay Leno's last show is Thursday night, February 6th. Jimmy Fallon takes over the The Tonight Show on February 17th. That is right after Channel 3 Eyewitness News at 11.