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Locals fear loss of 'The Tonight Show'

A move by the long-running show would hit workers, businesses, they say.

March 26, 2013|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com
  • People wait outside NBC-TV Studios in Burbank for a taping of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
People wait outside NBC-TV Studios in Burbank for a taping… (File photo )

After four decades of entertaining late-night TV viewers from its studio in Burbank, "The Tonight Show" might be returning to its birthplace on the East Coast, which could be bad news for local businesses that have counted on the show's staff and audiences.

NBC is considering handing over the 11:35 p.m. time slot to Jimmy Fallon, who tapes his “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” in New York City. Host Jay Leno's contract for “The Tonight Show” ends in September 2014, but there have been suggestions that the change may happen earlier.

Robert Shapiro, general manager at Milt & Edie's Drycleaners, located just down Alameda Avenue from NBC, said losing “The Tonight Show” would mean a reduction in customers.

“We do get a Christmas card from Jay Leno every year, and we have done work for guests [on the show],” Shapiro said. “And you also have the people who [do] sound [and] lighting who come in here as well.”

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Shapiro said that around 25% of Milt & Edie's business comes from entertainment industry clients, and when TV and film work leaves Burbank, service-oriented businesses are often adversely impacted.

Jay Sadofski, owner of Mo's restaurant, said his business is frequently filled with lunch orders from staff members of “The Tonight Show,” so its departure would be bad news.

“I do feed the staff and the writers, and they do bits in the neighborhood, location stuff … there's nothing good about it,” he said.

Sadofski said that he had already seen a detrimental impact to local businesses when NBC began shifting production to its Universal City facilities, and “The Tonight Show” leaving would be more of the same.

“It's bad, it's certainly not helpful to lose the last of anything related to NBC,” he said. “Any time there's an exit of potential customers, especially studios … it's sad to see them go.”

Located near “The Tonight Show” studio, Dimples, a karaoke nightclub, draws from the crowd that leaves Leno's taping each night, and also from production employees, said owner Sal Ferraro.

“After the show, they all come in — groups of five, 10 people,” he said. “A lot of out-of-state people would come and enjoy [the show].”

City officials are also opposed to the show's possible relocation. Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski even jokingly threatened to go on a hunger strike in protest.

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