- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2002

NEW YORK — Jimmy Fallon is a kid in a candy store. He has chosen to meet for this interview in a Rockefeller Center chocolate shop downstairs from the "Saturday Night Live" studio, where he has made his name as the irreverent yang to Tina Fey's prim yin on the "Weekend Update" anchor desk.

He comes here a lot, Mr. Fallon says, because it is a quiet place to sit and read scripts, and because the hot chocolate is "absolutely perfect."

The women who work here dote on the comedian as if he were a favorite nephew, insisting that along with his usual hot chocolate, he should sample one of the new caramel cookies. He is only too happy to oblige.

He makes sure you have the hot chocolate, too. "I just can't wait till you try this you're really gonna love it," he gushes. "It's so perfect. It's like pudding, right?" (He's right it is yummy.)

Later, it is the same hard sell when a photographer shows up to take his picture: "Get a hot chocolate," he says. "It's unbelievable. You're gonna flip out."

The 27-year-old has that same boyish enthusiasm about everything he is doing these days and he is doing everything.

You cannot turn on MTV without seeing Mr. Fallon singing and dancing in commercials for the MTV Video Music Awards, which he plays host to tomorrow. The show airs live from Radio City Music Hall at 8 p.m.

You also cannot miss Mr. Fallon's own video for "Idiot Boyfriend," the first song off his debut comedy album, "The Bathroom Wall," which just happens to hit stores two days before the Video Music Awards. In it, Mr. Fallon, a product of '80s pop culture, spoofs videos ranging from Prince's "When Doves Cry" to Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step."

MTV and MTV2 President Van Toffler says the comedian was a natural choice to serve as host of the Video Music Awards after he was co-host of the MTV Movie Awards last year with Kirsten Dunst.

"He knows everything about contemporary pop culture, and in particular he does blow-away impressions of contemporary artists," Mr. Toffler says.

Mr. Fallon's goofy humor is vastly different from the in-your-face style of last year's host, comedian Jamie Foxx, who saw some of his harsher jokes land with a thud. But Mr. Toffler says that is not why MTV chose Mr. Fallon.

"Clearly, we want this to be the last big bash of the summer, especially before the country takes on a very somber tone around the anniversary of September 11, and Jimmy can be both insightful and funny and light and sincere," he says.

Mr. Fallon also just finished shooting the Woody Allen movie "Anything Else," with Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci, which is scheduled to come out next year.

Then there is his day job really his night job on "Saturday Night Live."

Mr. Fallon was born in Brooklyn and raised in Saugerties, N.Y., and he always dreamed of being a cast member on the late-night comedy show. He has every episode on tape since 1986.

"I always said I want to be on 'SNL' before I'm 27," he says. "It was almost to the point of craziness. I just thought, 'I gotta get on.'"

Dana Carvey was his idol, he says, for his ability to do impressions. Mr. Fallon's own impersonations got him his start on the stand-up comedy circuit while he attended the College of Saint Rose in Albany, N.Y.

Then they got him his dream job: His Adam Sandler impression was so dead-on that it inspired "SNL" Executive Producer Lorne Michaels to hire him in 1998.

But fame has made sleep a rarity lately, Mr. Fallon says. He recently went to a resort for a weekend, just to catch up on rest.

"I'm trying to keep it cool because this is, like, a crazy month. I've never been this I don't know, what do you say? this out there since I started on 'SNL,'" he says. "I'm on every bus, and billboards and phone booths. The first couple of days, I couldn't even see it. I was like, 'I can't look at it.'"

Other people clearly can, and do; fan Web sites offer Jimmy Fallon trivia quizzes and describe him as "adorable" and a "super fox."

He also landed on People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" issue this year. Reporter Danielle Dubin, who was on the panel that chose the list, says Mr. Fallon's allure lies in his sense of humor.

"He's sexy without being threatening. He's adorable," Miss Dubin says. "He looks like the funny guy you went to high school with who all the girls had a crush on."

In his self-deprecating fashion, Mr. Fallon says he didn't even read the "50 Most Beautiful" issue.

"I think that is like, 'We're running out of celebrities.' I really feel like it's me and the Taco Bell dog. The guy from 'Survivor 3,' me and, like, the Osbournes' dogs," he says. "I mean, I don't look at myself and say, 'What a dirtbag.' I go, 'OK, whatever.' I'm just a normal-looking dude who lucked out."

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