The sign advertising his show still looms over the NBC parking lot, and for a few more days throngs of fans will crowd the studio gates in Burbank before tapings. But Jay Leno says he's ready to leave — and this time, he says he really means it.
After more than 40 years, "The Tonight Show" is leaving Southern California and heading back to New York, with the 63-year-old Leno, who first became host in 1992, handing off the show to Jimmy Fallon, just 39.
Four years have passed since NBC botched a similar passing of the torch to Conan O'Brien. This time it's the passing of an era, and not just for Leno, one of the most polarizing figures in show business. It's also a sobering inflection point for the TV industry and Los Angeles generally, both of which are struggling to adapt to economic and technological forces that are threatening a cultural primacy that looked assured back in 1972, when Johnny Carson transplanted "Tonight" to what he jokingly called "beautiful downtown Burbank," the Los Angeles Times reports.