David Steinberg, whose many appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson during the show’s New York heyday were surpassed only by those of the late Bob Hope, was recently reminiscing with Jimmy Fallon (in the very same 30 Rock studio) about some of his 140 guest spots. Clips like this take on added resonance in the wake of Wednesday’s bombshell NYT report by Bill Carter that NBC is planning to move the program back to Manhattan in 2014 with Fallon as host.
Three thousand miles away from Studio 6B, our pal Michael Horowicz also couldn’t help but reminisce about some Carson lore anchored to Fallon’s studio. During a trip to New York in the mid-90s, Horowicz and Late Late Show colleague Tom Snyder had dinner with former WNBC weatherman Dr. Frank Field at Bello on Ninth Avenue. Field, to the amazement of his dinner companions, explained that when The Tonight Show was done in New York, it actually started around 11:15 p.m. At the time, NBC affiliates aired only 15 minutes of evening news and so, from 11:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. – or so Field claimed – it was him, Johnny, Doc and the gathering band, hanging out on-air to fill the nightly gap.
“Tom and I didn’t believe him,” Horowicz tells FishbowlLA. “We both considered ourselves great students of late night TV, and we’d never heard about this extra 15 minutes. Furthermore, we’d never heard of any NBC affiliate that didn’t do a full 30-minute late news. We honestly thought Frank was full of sh*t, or at least full of sherry.”