BURBANK (CBSLA.com) — When “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno signs off for the final time on Thursday night, hundreds of jobs in the city of Burbank will also be saying goodbye.
KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports Leno is set to step down from his 22-year run as “Tonight” prepares to move back to the East Coast.
Leno’s last taping was reserved for invited guests only, which included friends and family.
“I’m a friend of Jay’s. I’ve known him for 22 years and I can’t miss the last show. It’s the end of an era and that is sad,” a man told KCAL9’s Amy Johnson.
While the future of nearly 170 production jobs remains unclear, the economic losses from the “Tonight” departure to New York City are expected to be relatively modest compared with the rest of Burbank’s some 900 entertainment-related operations.
But perhaps the greater impact will be a symbolic one: the iconic late night show has called Burbank home since Johnny Carson took over in 1972.
Leno, who residents say was often spotted patronizing local eateries and other businesses near the Burbank studio lot formerly owned by NBC, will make way for “Saturday Night Live” alum Jimmy Fallon, who was tapped to move from his current “Late Night” spot last April.
“We’ll miss him,” said one man. “He’s an institution here in Southern California.”
“He’s had a long run, and let’s see if Jimmy Fallon can do any better,” another “Tonight Show” fan said.
But for Burbank spokesperson Drew Sugars, despite the bittersweet departure, the city is ready to embrace its next big act.
“We have first-rate facilities, prime location,” Sugars said. “We’ve already seen other businesses come in, and we expect to see others.”
Like Sugars, Burbank Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said new doors are opening.
“The real story is we’re reimagining ourselves. What’s gotten lost a little is while the Leno show may lose upwards of 150 jobs, we’re also seeing new organizations come in,” she said.
A new venture is already planned at the studios.
“iHeartRadio, which is holding promotional concerts for Katy Perry’s recently released album and also for other artists like Justin Bieber, is moving to Burbank and signing a 10-year lease,” Gabel-Luddy said.
She said FremantleMedia, New Line Cinema and DC Comics are all coming to the city.
“We are very encouraged under DC Comics that they’re bringing 300 to 350 jobs,” she said.
Fallon’s first show is scheduled to air Feb. 17.