the world by renaming a park next to the studios in his honor.
"That's why we name things for people," said Michael Hastings, who
was mayor at the time of the park dedication in April 1992. "We want
people to know who made our future viable."
Several months before Carson retired, Hastings and then-City
Manager Bud Ovrom approached Jack O'Neill, a vice president with NBC,
about renaming the park after the talk show host.
Carson appreciated the gesture, O'Neill said.
"NBC was all for it," O'Neill added. "Not only for Carson
personally, but it would be a good legacy to have it next to the NBC
Studios. It was an absolute home run."
Carson, originally a joke writer, took the helm of The Tonight
Show in 1962, when it was broadcast from New York City. In 1972, the
show moved to Burbank, where it aired from NBC Studios at Alameda and
Olive avenues. Broadcasting from Southern California made it easier
to get A-list celebrity guests.
Although "beautiful downtown Burbank" was coined by Gary Owens, a
cast member of the "Laugh In" television show, Carson picked up on
the phrase at a time when the city was making the transition from
being an aerospace town to an entertainment capital, and needed to
rebrand and reidentify itself.
Carson was a part of that rebranding, Hastings said.
"Johnny Carson constantly mentioned Burbank, whether in humor or
in jest," Hastings said. "He was an integral player in branding
Burbank as an entertainment capital."
Tickets to The Tonight Show tapings remain a hot item for
Josh Liebnow, of San Diego, was in line for the show Monday
"[He] was a bit before my time, but I still know what he meant to
TV and everything," Liebnow said.
Michael Tomczyk, visiting from Seattle, received his tickets on
Saturday. Before coming to the studio, he had been in Hollywood and
happened upon Carson's Walk of Fame star, which had been adorned with
"It's amazing how quickly people put stuff up for him," Tomczyk
At Johnny Carson Park, vases and pots of flowers, a balloon and
several signs adorned the dedication plaque. There was also a vase of
flowers in front of the studio.
The City Council said it would adjourn its Tuesday meeting in
Carson's memory. The California Assembly adjourned its session Monday
in Carson's memory.
* MARK MADLER covers City Hall and the courts. He may be reached
at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at email@example.com.