YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsJohnny Carson

Johnny Carson

April 12, 2013 | By Deborah Vankin
The trailblazing comic improviser Jonathan Winters, who died Thursday at age 87, was a seminal influence on scores of comedians and the person Robin Williams credits as his mentor. Winters' high energy, unpredictable and often surreal comic riffs included an array of characters, reenactments of movie scenes and pointed, quick-morphing sound effects that he often produced on the spot.  Take, for example, his 1964 appearance on "The Jack Paar Program. " In order to illustrate Winters' genius for creating comedy out of thin air, Paar gave him a simple wooden stick.
April 12, 2013 | By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
Late-night television, busier than ever (and at its best, better than ever) with talk shows and comedy, has been in the news again lately, with the hand-over of "The Tonight Show" from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon officially announced for next spring - a change in stewardship that will also take the show back to New York from Burbank. The man who brought "The Tonight Show" west in the first place is producer Peter Lassally, who wanted to live in Los Angeles and in 1972 convinced Johnny Carson that California was the place he ought to be. Lassally, 80, is now producer of the singular "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson"; when I interviewed Ferguson in 2010, he told me that the person I really should be talking to was Lassally.
April 4, 2013 | By Joe Flint and Meg James, Los Angeles Times
Jimmy Fallon has been crowned the next king of late-night television, but the empire he will inherit has seen better days. "Late Night" host Fallon, who will succeed Jay Leno in "The Tonight Show" chair in 2014, is charged with trying to reenergize a franchise that has lost much of its luster as viewers flock to cable television and the Internet for entertainment. Once an appearance on "The Tonight Show" could turn an unknown into a star overnight. Now a video on YouTube can do that.
April 3, 2013 | By Joe Flint
Ending weeks of gossip and speculation, NBC confirmed that Jimmy Fallon will succeed Jay Leno as host of "The Tonight Show" in the spring of 2014. Although Leno is still the most-watched late-night television host, NBC is making the move because it thinks Fallon will do better with younger viewers in the years to come. This is not the first time NBC has announced a plan to replace Leno. In 2009, NBC put Conan O'Brien in as host of "The Tonight Show" only to see ratings decline.
April 3, 2013 | By Times Staff Writers and Times Community News
The announcement that Jay Leno will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon and that "The Tonight Show" would move from Burbank to New York next year was met with disappointment by L.A. officials. “Obviously, it is a great disappointment that 'The Tonight Show' will move back to New York after four decades in Burbank to accommodate its new host," said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian in a statement. Burbank officials have been trying to keep "The Tonight Show" in their hometown.
March 22, 2013 | By David Horsey
Jay Leno had to know the head honchos at NBC were gunning for him when he told the following joke Monday night: "You know the whole legend of St. Patrick, right?" he asked the audience in his opening monologue. "St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland - and then they came to the United States and became NBC executives. " The harsh humor directed at the guys who hold his fate in their hands is just the latest sign that the star and his bosses pretty much detest one another.
March 22, 2013 | By the Los Angeles Times editorial board
Johnny Carson brought NBC's "The Tonight Show" from New York to Southern California in 1972, a nod to Hollywood's status as the capital of the entertainment industry and the gravitational center of the pop-culture universe. Although the network's headquarters was in New York, Los Angeles had long since eclipsed the Big Apple when it came to television production. As Carson told The Times that year, "The guests you can get in Hollywood you can't get anywhere else. " In the four decades since then, many film and television producers have fled to cheaper locales, and new forms of entertainment have lured away many of the youthful viewers that Hollywood used to attract.
March 22, 2013 | By Joe Flint
The man who came up with the phrase "beautiful downtown Burbank" is not happy that NBC is considering moving "The Tonight Show" back to New York City. "Burbank is a great little place," said Gary Owens, who coined the phrase from his radio days then made it famous when he was the announcer on "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" from 1968 to 1973. "If you are in show business in any way, shape or form, you must be here. "  Johnny 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. PHOTOS: Classic 'Tonight Show' moments "He said, 'We're using "beautiful downtown Burbank," and I told him, 'That's fine - not a problem,'" Owens recalled.
March 21, 2013 | By Greg Braxton
It's no joke: The mayor of Burbank wants 'The Tonight Show' to remain in the area formerly known as "Beautiful Downtown Burbank. " Burbank Mayor Dave Golonski said he is drafting a letter to NBC executives asking them to reconsider the plans to move “The Tonight Show” from Burbank to New York. “We would be extremely disappointed if the plans to move 'The Tonight Show' go through,” Golonski said by phone. “We would like it to remain in Burbank and the region.” PHOTOS: Classic 'Tonight Show' moments Former "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson jokingly christenend the headquarters of the show as "beautiful downtown Burbank" when the late-night series moved from New York to California in 1972.
March 21, 2013 | By Meredith Blake
If the rumors are true and “The Tonight Show” is set to return to its ancestral  home at 30 Rockefeller Plaza with Jimmy Fallon as host, the move would be a boon for New York City - and maybe even the aging late-night genre itself. A relocation to the East Coast could also signal an effort by NBC to revitalize the “Tonight Show” brand, still the premier franchise in late-night but now seen as stagnant and too safe. “From '54 to '72, 'The Tonight Show' had the flavor and the feel of New York City,” said Ron Simon, curator of the Paley Center for Media in New York City.  “New York was at one point something that executives once shied away from, but with 'Seinfeld,' 'Louie,' 'Sex and the City,' New York is thought of in a different way. The New York spirit is obviously something people have a craving for, whether it's Jon Stewart or 'SNL.'” PHOTOS: Classic 'Tonight Show' moments Los Angeles offers proximity to celebrities and the entertainment business as a whole, but that can come at a creative cost, say some observers.
Los Angeles Times Articles