Explaining Southern California's economy

'Tonight Show' to leave Burbank, impact more psychological than economic

Jimmy Fallon, right, and Jay Leno at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills.

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

NBC has announced that Jay Leno, left, will step down as host in 2014, to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon. The show will return to its original home, New York, after four decades in Burbank.

Beautiful downtown Burbank will lose a little of its luster next year when 'The Tonight Show" returns to New York.

And while some observers are downplaying the economic impact, others are bemoaning the loss of a TV touchstone that has broadcast from here since 1972.

NBC made official on Wednesday what industry observers had been expecting: Jay Leno will step down as the host of "The Tonight Show" in spring 2014 and his replacement will be Jimmy Fallon, who's currently hosting his own show right after Leno's on the network. 

In Burbank, views differed on what everyone knew was coming.

"It's more about tradition than economics for us," said Drew Sugars, a spokesman for the city.

RELATED: Jimmy Fallon to replace Jay Leno as 'Tonight Show' moves to NYC; bummer for Burbank (Videos)

He pointed out that "The Tonight Show," with a staff of less than 200, is a small operation in Burbank, where more than 900 entertainment-related companies have operations. 

But try telling that to Jay Sadofsky, who's owned Mo's Restaurant in Burbank since 1995. "There's no joy in Mudville," he said. "I'm not waking up in terror with night sweats, but it's nice to have that affiliation with the show and now it's gone."

He lamented that the show's writers would no longer send over a production staffer on a daily basis to order food.

NBCUniversal did not return requests for comment on whether current "Tonight Show" staffers would lose their jobs, be moved to other positions or be offered the opportunity to move to New York.

The network has also not said what will happen with Fallon's current 12:30 a.m. time slot. NBC currently airs a 30-minute show hosted by Carson Daly at 1:30 a.m.

"It is the nature of the industry, and many others, that shows come and go," said UCLA economist Jerry Nickelburg in an e-mail. "So the questions one wants to ask are: What is the next activity that these folks will be doing?  Will they be hired on to another show?  Will they start their own new show, perhaps one which generates even more revenue or profit?  Will they leave the industry?  Will they leave the area?"

Nickelburg added: "The answer is crucial to understanding the economic impact.  Nevertheless, this is quite small. It is unlikely that one show disappearing would appear as a significant move in any aggregate measure of local economic activity."

That view was backed by Gary Olson, President and CEO of the Burbank Chamber of Commerce. "From an economic standpoint, it's not going to mean too much of anything," he said.

But he echoed Sugars' comments that the departure of a show that has originated from Southern California since the Nixon Administration would affect Burbank's overall image.

And then there's restaurant owner Sadofsky, who lauded the show's host for being a presence in the neighborhood. 

"I can't see one positive thing from Leno leaving," he said. "But maybe he'll find himself craving our rotisserie chicken."

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