"The Tonight Show" will move from its long-time home in the San Fernando Valley back to New York when Jimmy Fallon replaces Jay Leno as host in the spring of 2014 -- a departure for which Burbank officials had been bracing.
The show will move from its studio, just south of the 134 Freeway in Burbank, to 30 Rockfeller Center, where Fallon's "Late Night" currently orginates.
"It's certainly not going to take Burbank down, but it's going to have an impact on people that work at the show," said Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski. "A number of them are Burbank residents. This is not a move we're happy to see at all."
The "Tonight Show" employs more than 100 people, but the impact of the show's departure is not limited those who work on the lot, according to Kevin Klowden, director of the Milken Institute's California Center.
"Its actual impact on the surrounding community is far greater, as it affects suppliers, truckers, caterers and other support personnel not employed by NBC," said Klowden, author of "Film Flight: Lost Production and Its Economic Impact in California."
The show also put Burbank -- or "Beautiful Downtown Burbank," as it was referred to on "Laugh-In" and "The Tonight Show" -- and Southern California in the late-night talk show spotlight. The loss of an iconic production in a region known for show business might have a "psychological impact," Klowden added.
"It means three of the highest profile late-night shows will all now be in New York," Klowden said. "Where NBC previously felt like the show had to be at the center of the entertainment industry in LA, it now feels the show can succeed on the East Coast."
Host Johnny Carson moved the show from New York to Southern California in 1972. Except for a brief stint at nearby Universal Studios for the short-lived "Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien," the show has been a Burbank staple for four decades.
The show became a significant tourist draw, with out-of-town visitors lining up off the lot's California Street entrance for tickets to be part of the studio audience. During a 2009 visit by President Barack Obama, crowds of onlookers gathered on streets surrounding the studio lot as the president's motorcade wound through Burbank.
That same year, Conan O'Brien took over the show and its location moved about three miles to the south as Leno moved to prime time with "The Jay Leno Show." The move lasted only a few months before Leno returned as "Tonight Show" host.
Councilmember Paul Krekorian said the move announced Wednesday is a "great disappointment."
"At the same time, it’s important to emphasize that NBC made this decision due to the specific circumstances of this show and its host," said Krekorian. "NBC has personally assured me of the network’s continuing commitment to increase production in Southern California... The Tonight Show’s move east will not dampen our resolve to fight for jobs in Los Angeles and beyond."
In an effort to convince Fallon to come to LA amid rumors of changes for the show, Krekorian tweeted March 21, "Hey @jimmyfallon: Today's high temperature in New York was 43 degrees while the high in Los Angeles is 70 degrees. Just sayin..."
Hosts of "The Tonight Show":
- Steve Allen: 1954-1957
- Jack Paar: 1957-1962
- Johnny Carson: 1962-1992
- Jay Leno: 1992-2009/2010-2014
- Conan O'Brien: 2009-2010
- Jimmy Fallon: 2014-
Photos courtesy Getty Images.