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Jimmy Fallon beefs up support on Chicago visit

Jimmy Fallmakes change for Mr. Beef customers Friday. | NBC UNIVERSAL PHOTO

Jimmy Fallon makes change for Mr. Beef customers on Friday. | NBC UNIVERSAL PHOTO

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Updated: December 10, 2013 6:10AM

‘Late Night” host Jimmy Fallon dropped by Chicago Friday to schmooze and shoot some promos at NBC Tower.

Fallon knew he’d only be in town for a few hours, but he wasn’t about to visit the city without trying some local eats. He did a little research online and picked his spot: Mr. Beef on Orleans in River North.

“I walk in and there’s a hundred pictures of Jay Leno on the wall,” Fallon said. “I’m like, ‘What’s going on? Am I getting punked?’ ”

Whether it was kismet or coincidence, it’s certainly fitting that Fallon invaded Leno’s favorite Italian beef joint. Come Feb. 17, Fallon will be taking over “The Tonight Show” from Leno, too.

That means Fallon is busy making the rounds at roughly 20 NBC affiliates across the country, meeting with station staff, executives and the evening news anchors he hopes will remind folks to stay tuned for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

“I guess it’s like running for office,” he said before a meet-and-greet with advertisers at WMAQ-Channel 5’s headquarters. Earlier in the day, he was in Detroit. “It’s not just hosting a show anymore. It’s me coming here to say, ‘Thanks for the support. I know you have a choice.’ ”

In the 10:35 p.m. timeslot that Fallon will be moving into, Chicago viewers are choosing ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel over CBS’s David Letterman and NBC’s Leno.

So far this season, Kimmel’s late-night talker ranks No. 1 in the Chicago market in both household ratings and the key adult demo of 18-to-49-year-olds.

“We’re going to have to change all that,” Fallon said, adding that he plans to tape some “Tonight Shows” in Chicago, just like Leno did. “There’s another Jimmy waiting to try, waiting to get his shot. Just give me a week. If you like it, hang out with us.”

Fallon said customers at Mr. Beef seemed to like his current show, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” which airs after “The Tonight Show.” That timeslot is being inherited by another “Saturday Night Live” star, Seth Meyers, a good friend of Fallon’s.

While Fallon was at the River North eatery, fans snapped photos with him and gave him tips on what to order.

“Some guy goes, ‘He’s a tourist, help him out: You want them hot and sweet and wet,” said Fallon, who stepped behind the register and made change for several customers.

“They’re like, ‘Dude, we love the show!’ ” Fallon said. “Maybe at Al’s they watch Kimmel? I’ll have to go to Al’s next time I’m here.”

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