The End of a Long, Glorious Tonight Show Run for ‘Beautiful Downtown Burbank’

Sorry, Gary Owens, but one of very best things to ever happen to “beautiful downtown Burbank” is now officially ear-marked for February 2014 east coast relocation. The Tonight Show will soon be Jimmy Fallon‘s to re-invent, within Lorne Michaels walking distance.

As LA Times reporter Joe Flint recently reminded, it was Owens who first coined the phrase as a radio announcer and then made it famous on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Although NBC may well  find a worthy TV ratings successor to occupy the main studio at Alameda and Olive, it will never quite be the same:

Carson, who moved The Tonight Show from New York to Los Angeles in 1972, also used the “beautiful downtown Burbank” line but never tried to take credit for it.

“He said, ‘We’re using “beautiful downtown Burbank,” and I told him, ‘That’s fine — not a problem,'” Owens recalled. Burbank paid Owens back for his kind words by honoring him along with Rowan & Martin executive producer George Schlatter as part of a celebration of the city’s founding.

While Jay Leno never relied on the phrase as much as Carson, FishbowlLA still thinks Fallon might want to contemplate an update. Something like, perhaps, “resplendent Rockefeller Center.”

Meanwhile, who knows? This time next year, Leno could be getting ready to do a new nightly FOX talker from “sensational Century City.”

[Photo: Gerry Broughan/]

Previously on FishbowlLA:
Hollywood Reporter Delivers Leno Lollapalooza
Tonight Show Chatter Has LA TV Producer Remembering Carson’s Killer Extra 15 Minutes
‘Bombastic Bushkin’ Reveals the Man Behind The Tonight Show Curtain

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.