Jimmy Fallon is about to get his biggest single audience yet, and he has Emmy to thank for it.
The "Saturday Night Live" alum and current host of NBC's weeknight "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" gets an earlier showcase by presiding over the NBC telecast of the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards from Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre on Sunday, Aug. 29.
It's a big deal for Fallon, who clearly likes to be liked; not only will he be seen by many people usually not up late enough to catch his own show, but he's an avowed television fan.
"I don't want to push too hard," Fallon says of the one-liners he'll deliver on Emmy night. "I want the Academy (of Television Arts and Sciences, which decides who wins) to be happy, I want (Emmy show executive producer) Don Mischer to be happy, and I want NBC to be happy. It's not really about me. It's more about celebrating television and getting all of those (winners) face time."
Fallon certainly is going into his Emmy gig well-armed with material. "We gave them, I think, six or seven scripts," he says. "They were like, 'OK, stop it! That's more than enough. We have to give out awards at some point.' I think that coming from 'Saturday Night Live,' we kind of know how far you can push things, and what's enjoyable. I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable. I want to make people laugh.
"We do throw away jokes sometimes if they're a little bit too mean," Fallon adds, "but they're funny, and I get the laugh just in the office. When I 'hit' people, I do it in the nicest way, because I don't dislike anybody. I love everybody and the whole business that we're in, so (I just make) a little playful jab here and there."
The HBO miniseries "The Pacific," with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks among its producers, led this year's Emmy nominations with a total of 24. It won seven creative-arts honors at a separate ceremony last weekend, and it's still up for five more Emmys.
The most-nominated regularly scheduled series was Fox's freshman year comedy "Glee" with 19 bids, including separate ones for stars Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch. It won two of its categories last weekend, and it remains in contention in eight more.
"It's been a crazy-good year for TV," Fallon reflects. "I mean, with new shows like 'Modern Family' and 'Glee,' and old shows going away, like 'Law & Order' and '24' and 'Lost'? I'm still trying to figure out what happened on 'Lost.' I don't even know. Were they dead the whole time?"
"Late Night With Jimmy Fallon" already has won the two Emmy Awards it was up for itself: outstanding short-form picture editing, plus the honor it won last year, outstanding creative achievement in interactive media, nonfiction, for the show's related "Jimmy Fallon Experience" online.
Another nominee from that part of the NBC broadcast day is "The Tonight Show," which has among its four bids outstanding variety, music or comedy series for its now-finished Conan O'Brien iteration -- while past and present "Tonight" overseer Jay Leno's version scored no nominations.
Fallon recalls that during those two hosts' much-reported negotiating, "I just kind of kept my head down and kept working hard, just looking for the next joke. I wasn't really in the mix of all that. I just stuck to my thing. Everyone else was doing (jokes about it), and I couldn't think of any angle except to say, 'The one thing I've learned from those guys is that hosting "Late Night" is the one-way ticket to not hosting "The Tonight Show." ' "
An already known highlight of this year's Emmy ceremony will be George Clooney's receipt of the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, being given for the first time in six years. Otherwise, the Television Academy is trying to keep surprises under wraps, but expect Fallon to inject himself into parodies of popular shows. He reveals he recently did some filming with Christina Hendricks of AMC's "Mad Men."
"It should be fun," Fallon says. "I think we're going to do some musical stuff. I don't want to give away what we're doing, because surprise is just a funny emotion to experience. And you don't really get to do it that much."
A very important part of Fallon's Emmy job will be to bring the show in exactly at three hours. In a rare move, NBC will air the event twice on the West Coast: live at 5 p.m. Pacific time, when the East Coast also is getting it live at 8 p.m., then again on tape delay immediately afterward.
"I don't worry at all," Fallon maintains about hitting that three-hour mark precisely. "I just let (the Emmy producers) worry about that. As a fan of the Emmys and a fan of award shows in general, I just want them to move along.
"I want to keep this fast and tight, so we're all with the same goal in mind. Even the people in the crowd are like, 'OK, let's get this over with!' I want to keep it fresh and fun ... and respectful, too."