NBC Universal will turn its empty “Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” soundstage into the home for KNBC and NBC News’ Los Angeles bureau.
The Universal lot’s Stage One has been dark since O’Brien signed off earlier this year. NBC U announced Thursday that it would remodel the building into a two-story high-definition studio and newsroom housing both operations.
The KNBC/NBC News facility is set to open in 2012.
Move comes after NBC U scrapped its original plans, announced in 2007, to relocate KNBC and its NBC News L.A. operations to a property across the street from Universal Studios.
Thomas Properties is developing that site, dubbed “Metro Studio @ Lankershim,” a 650,000-square-foot project located on Lankershim Boulevard where an MTA Red Line subway stop and a parking lot stand.
But that complex, originally targeted to open in 2011, was delayed by entitlements and other issues (local homeowners raised a fuss over traffic concerns, for example).
According to a Thomas representative, Metro Studio @ Lankershim is still in the works and is now targeted to open at the end of 2016 or early 2017.
NBC U is still expected to be a major tenant at that time, and KNBC may make another move then. But for now, 2016-17 is too far away for the station, which also needs a fresh coat of paint.
Hence this location, actually inside the Universal lot. Move ends KNBC’s nearly 50-year run in Burbank.
NBC U sold its longtime Burbank lot in 2008 to M. David Paul/Worthe Real Estate Group; since then, it has leased back much of the facility.
Besides KNBC and NBC News’ L.A. bureau, the lot continues to be the home of KVEA, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “Access Hollywood” and “Daysof Our Lives,” among others. NBC Entertainment moved to the Universal lot a few years ago.
Plan will separate KNBC and Telemundo’s KVEA, which previously operated as a duopoly. That’s because NBC U is also shopping for a new facility that would consolidate KVEA, Telemundo network news, the network’s sales department and its spinoff channel Mun 2 all under one roof. Those divisions are scattered across Burbank, Glendale and Universal’s CityWalk.
A Telemundo rep said NBC U is looking at several locations for the network’s operation, and it hopes to move by the end of 2011.
KNBC and NBC News Los Angeles, not to mention KVEA and the soon-to-be divested Spanish indie KWHY, have had to contend for years with an older, ratty studio and newsroom — while competitors KABC and KCBS/KCAL have moved into brand-new, technologically advanced facilities over the past decade.
“The Universal facility will be topnotch — consisting of the best technology, infrastructure and people in the business,” said NBC News prexy Steve Capus.
Besides the 650,000-square-foot facility, NBC Universal will retrofit a five-story office building to house KNBC and NBC News tech support and executive offices.
“This is a significant investment in our West Coast news operations,” said NBC U prexy-CEO Jeff Zucker. “It also further consolidates the locations of our businesses, making the Universal Lot the center of our operations on the West Coast.”
Before moving to Burbank in the early 1960s, NBC’s West Coast headquarters were on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. That building, dubbed NBC Radio City, was demolished in 1964. A Chase bank now sits on the site.
Universal spent $50 million to transform Stage One into the home of O’Brien’s “Tonight Show,” which bowed in June 2009 — only to end its run in January after the Peacock’s latenight debacle.
Although some talk had swirled that Team Coco might lease the stage for the host’s TBS show, “Conan” instead quickly found a home on the Warner Bros. lot.