Albertville teen appears on new Tonight Show
Little did seventh-grader Jonathan Haller of Albertville know that a playful video he recorded would result in television history.
Not that his video became a smash hit, but it got the attention of talent scouts on the new Tonight Show at NBC, and the next thing he knew, Jonathan, his parents Mark and Jenny and older sister Kristen were on a plane to New York, where Jonathan would be filmed in only the third ever Tonight Show featuring new host Jimmy Fallon.
Fallon airs a playful youth-promoting segment titled, “Fallonvention,” and Jonathan was the first of three students who got to show Fallon a creative invention. Jonathan’s invention was the “iHead,” an apparatus to hold one’s mobile device in front of your face allowing you to be hands-free or multi-tasking while watching videos or face-timing friends.
Jenny Haller isn’t just Jonathan’s mother, she is also his principal at St. Michael Catholic School, and she gave a nod to the school and his hometown for inspiring his passion for creativity.
“Both Jonathan’s home and school are places that encourage his creativity to flourish,” Jenny said. “He has a unique way of seeing the world and has been blessed with a storehouse of clever ideas that show up through art, science, acting and more!”
Jenny Haller said her school has “fostered and supported this kind of thinking through its curriculum, professional staff and a variety of projects and events such as hands-on science assignments, technology integration and the annual Art & Talent Show.”
She also noted that her son remains active in such groups as Family Youth Community Connections (FYCC) and the SOAR Regional Arts where he has enjoyed theater opportunities.
She said Jonathan heard about the “Fallonventions” opportunity through a non-profit called “Camp Invention,” one of several connections that helped to spread the word about the segment. Jonathan is now connecting with CI regarding opportunities to train to become a young camp leader.
“Camp Invention fosters opportunities for elementary age students to have fun and do creative problem solving through STEM activities,” Jenny Haller said. “They are backed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.”
Jonathan self recorded a video about his iHead, and made a big enough impression on NBC that he was selected for the show.
“Truth be told, we didn’t see that video until after we got word he was invited,” Jenny Haller said. “He was just hoping NBC would send a thank you letter. Instead one week later we got a phone call from one of the producers.”
And onto New York the Haller family would go. They flew out Tuesday, Feb. 18, the show recorded and aired Wednesday, and they flew back Thursday after a whirlwind stop at one of the world’s busiest cities, where Jenny Haller said they “were treated like celebrities,” including Jonathan having his own dressing room and name on the door.
“He had the full experience of rehearsals, wardrobe, and even hair and make-up,” Jenny said. “He was backstage with celebrity guests Tim McGraw and Bradley Cooper and just across the hall from the ‘Roots,’ the new Tonight Show band.”
The entire trip was all-expenses paid, and Jenny said they stayed at a five-star hotel within walking distance of Rockefeller Center where the show is recorded.
“It was the first trip to New York City for all of us,” Jenny said. “He is still in awe … the show, the travel, meeting Jimmy, his staff and crew.”
To top it all off, GE, which sponsors Fallonvention, is giving Jonathan a check for $5,000.
Jenny Haller said her son could purchase “one cool thing,” like an electronic device, and that the rest would go toward his college future. She said that future would most likely involve something imaginative.
“He certainly has the ability to excel,” she said. “He’s a very creative thinker, and very artistic as well.”