UNIVERSAL CITY, CA–Whenever I’m in LA I like to attend a taping of a late night talk show. For one thing, you don’t have to stay up so late to see the show.
Thursday night, I caught a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Leno’s show tapes on the NBC studio lot in Burbank. Several NBC pages in their grey suits police the lines and direct people into the bleachers. The set is fairly wide, although not as wide as the set NBC built for Conan O’Brien on the Universal lot during his brief Tonight Show run. Conan’s set was also much more distant from the studio audience. (His new show will tape a few blocks from NBC on the Warner Bros. lot.)
Dressed in blue denim, Leno comes out and warms up the crowd himself before the show, posing for photos and mingling with the audience. Two young women from Toronto got a snap shot taken with the host, who quipped that, since there were Canadians in the house, there would be an open bar.
The Tonight Show Band, led by Ricky Minor, swings with a high energy salsa beat. Leno`s first guest was Wanda Sykes and it was cute to see the affection these two have for each other. Sykes would be the perfect Ed McMahon for Leno.
Show times can vary, but Thursdays taping took place from 4 to 5 p.m. with fans asked to be lined up by the gate by no later than 2:45. Tickets are free and there is information on how to obtain them on the Tonight Show`s web page.
Leno had a classic orange Dodge Charger parked in his spot outside the soundstage entrance.