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Where Is The Tonight Show Filmed?
The change of Tonight Show filming locations is directly linked to the history of the program, and its Hosts. Here's why Jimmy Fallon took the show "home" to NYC.
Since its debut in 1954, The Tonight Show has been a leader in late-night TV, entertaining both viewers at home and those who’ve snagged tickets for an episode’s taping. Throughout the decades, the six permanent Hosts —and dozens of guest Hosts — have welcomed thousands of guests, musical Acts, and audience members to The Tonight Show studios, with every high-energy minute captured on camera by the show’s expert crew.
But where does all the action take place, exactly? Read on to learn where The Tonight Show is filmed today, and why it moved from New York to California and back to New York again.
Where is The Tonight Show filmed?
The Tonight Show is currently taped in Studio 6B at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (also known as 30 Rock) in New York City.
When Fallon became the sixth permanent Host of The Tonight Show in 2014, he brought the program back to New York for the first time in 42 years.
“This is where it should be,” Mr. Fallon told The New York Times ahead of the show’s premiere. “It’s electric here. It’s the trendsetting city. It’s the most alive city in the world.”
Studio 6B was home to The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon for most of its five seasons, and both Fallon and his house band, The Roots, are native East Coast-ers (from Saugerties, New York, and Philadelphia, respectively).
The studio is a major part of the show’s history: Jack Paar’s Tonight Show was filmed in 6B from 1957-1962, and so was The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for 10 years before it moved across the country in 1972.
When did The Tonight Show move to L.A.?
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson first broadcast from its new home in Burbank, California on May 1, 1972.
The decision to move 10 years into Carson’s run came as new late-night shows were offering their own spin on the format The Tonight Show pioneered. As those who worked on the show told Vanity Fair, Carson and his producer decided that a new location in Los Angeles County would provide access to a wider pool of Hollywood talent.
Carson’s Tonight Show would remain in Burbank until he signed off for good in 1992, and Hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien based their shows there as well.
Because of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’s success in 30 Rock — and the fact that Saturday Night Live executive producer Lorne Michaels was to be The Tonight Show’s new EP — "It simply never came up that we would move to L.A.,” Michaels told The New York Times.
“This is the greatest building in the world to work in,” Mr. Michaels added, referring to 30 Rockefeller Plaza. “The audiences are already happy when they walk through the lobby.”