Change of coasts for 'Tonight' could mean a big shift

For more than 40 years, a studio at the corner of Olive and Alameda avenues in Burbank has been churning out a show that keeps viewers up late. But with NBC's "Tonight Show" poised to migrate back to New York, Southern California is in danger of losing not just jobs but also cultural clout.

News sunk in Thursday that NBC is hatching a plan to replace "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon next year and move the show back to New York, the city it fled in the early 1970s, not long before New York was mired in a bankruptcy crisis. Reaction has poured in along predictable lines: New Yorkers are gloating, Angelenos despairing. The mayor of Burbank is even organizing an official plea to persuade NBC to keep the show where it is.

Long-time late-night producer Robert Morton, who worked with David Letterman on "Late Night" and "The Late Show," and now lives mainly in Los Angeles, sees the move to New York as a smart one. "As far as I am concerned it's the best place to do late-night TV," he said.

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-- Scott Collins and Meredith Blake and Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times

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