Lorne Michaels has decided to give Jimmy Fallon’s debut as the new Late Night talk show a testing ground – online. Even though he won’t debut on the traditional media until Fall ’09, he’ll start his web debut in the coming months.
It’s a clever way to kick some tires before committing to a traditional TV format. Michaels told the New York Times this web-exclusivity will allow Fallon to experiment more with content. Hopefully this means the online version will actually take advantage of the internet medium and engage its viewers rather than provide passive entertainment.
One format that should draw inspiration is the now defunct The Show with Ze Frank. Frank started the online video program as a one year experiment from March ’06 to March ’07 and I have yet to see anything like it since. Subscribers (named sportracers) dedicated themselves to help make this show even better than Ze Frank could have imagined. They directed a lot of the show content and were challenged to do things such as make the ugliest MySpace page (easy!) and create an Earth sandwich. Frank also created a social app for those fans who needed solace after The Show ended with TheOrg, which also only lasted one year.
Of course, I’d be OK with a Fallon-led passive experience if it were 5 to 10 minutes of the Barry Gibb Talk Show.