From the E-Mailbag…

Let's blast through a batch of these. Someone who wants to be identified as "Parmenator-X" writes…

I actually attended Hampshire College and made a lot of use of the 5-College Consortium (cross-registration for classes at other schools, doing radio shows at Amherst College, joining the science fiction club at UMass, etc.). While the idea that the Scooby Doo cast was based on the 5 colleges is demonstrably false for the reason you state (Hampshire not having opened until 1970), the mapping of characters to colleges actually works pretty well. Hampshire, a non-traditional college (no grades or formal majors), has a reputation as a "hippie" school while Amherst College is considered more "preppie;" Mt. Holyoke and Smith are women's colleges, with Smith having a reputation for, hmmm, how shall I put this, students that looked more like Velma and less like Daphne. Oddly enough, the only one that doesn't really work is Scooby representing UMass Amherst, a very fine university indeed.

Yeah…but at some point, people began saying that the characters in the show were designed to represent those schools and that's ridiculous. Especially when you look at the cast of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

This is from Greg Kelly, writing about the parade of cameos on Jimmy Fallon's first night…

If you hadn't listed the Who's Who of celebrity walk-ons, I would not have known who most of them were. I do know that Joe Namath was at the Super Bowl (which I read about, ha-ha. I'm too old to devote four straight hours to a game. It better be a dang good game to go that long). Namath was at the Super Bowl wearing a huge, full length fur coat. He flipped the coin before the game and galavanted on the sidelines with two hot women 1/3rd of his age. So, I could see why he was on the show. To be quite honest, I confused him with an actor who used to play an old guy on Northern Exposure. Then Fallon announced it was Joe Namath and I was like, oh yeah, I was warned via Mr. Evanier's site.

Actually, I shouldn't have made it sound like I was mocking the presence of Joe Namath there. I had a very nice experience with Mr. Namath many years ago when he guested on a variety show I wrote. I didn't think much of him as an actor but boy, he couldn't have been nicer and more professional. The first day, he went up to everyone in the crew and introduced himself as if we all didn't know who he was. This was a long time ago but he was more famous then than he is now and I'd like to believe he's still that gracious.

And this is from someone who signs his e-mails "Alvarado." He or she writes…

You say that Fallon's ratings won't matter until we have a few weeks of "normal" programming. When will they matter? How and when would we know if he's in trouble?

Well, first off, I don't think he's going to be in trouble. He would have to do pretty bad in the ratings for anyone at NBC to panic…and even then, they're not going to even talk about taking him off until they're pretty certain of who they'd put in his place. I do not think the Third Coming of Leno is an option. Now that he's made a pretty graceful exit and now that his old crew and office have been disassembled, I don't think Jay would go back for any amount of money or pleading and I don't think they'd ask.

One of the many differences now from the Jay/Conan handoff is that NBC seems committed to Fallon in a way they never were with O'Brien. They made that deal to give The Tonight Show to Conan but by the time it kicked in, they weren't as thrilled with the notion and they reportedly had internal debates over whether it made sense to try and buy Conan out of the deal and keep Jay on. They thought in that waiting period that Jay's ratings would go down and Conan's would go up and that did not happen. If anything, the opposite did. But the current deal was made with eyes wide open and no one trying to guess ratings five years down the line.

They may not know how well Fallon would do but they have a pretty good idea of how poorly he won't do. They know he won't get below a certain number and they're probably okay with that. It wouldn't surprise me if Fallon has a firm two-year on-air guarantee with one of those wicked penalty clauses…like if they take him off before 104 weeks are up, he gets a million for every week he isn't on. Or something like that. (You can bet he has a time slot guarantee and they won't try moving his show to Midnight.)

But I don't think any of this is going to be an issue because I think he'll do fine. The suspense is whether his ratings will be at the low end of expectations or the high. How will you know if he's in trouble? When good sources start mentioning actual names of possible (and feasible) replacements. Until there's a name out there, he's fine. And I think he'll be fine anyway.