The “Tonight” show began in New York City in 1954, and remained at NBC’s headquarters, the fabled 30 Rock, until 1972, when Johnny Carson decided it was time to head west to “beautiful downtown Burbank” in southern California.
That was then. Some 41 years later, NBC is in the process of planning to bring “Tonight” home to New York, and is building a new studio at 30 Rockefeller Center for the show, whose new host will be Jimmy Fallon, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing senior executives. Fallon’s show currently follows Leno on the NBC schedule.
Whisperings in television circles have already suggested that Leno’s days as host of “Tonight” are numbered. He has hosted the show — save for a brief period when Conan O’Brien took over and Leno was moved to prime time — since taking over from Carson himself, who was the face of “Tonight” from 1962 to 1992.
The Times reported that network officials are concerned that NBC could lose its hold on advertiser-friendly younger audiences if Leno is allowed to stay on as host indefinitely, while ABC makes gains with that highly desired demographic with its “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
Kimmel recently was rescheduled to run head-to-head with Leno, displacing longtime 11:35 p.m. ABC fixture “Nightline.”
The Times reported the move back to Gotham could be finalized — at the latest — by the fall of 2014.