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Official: 'Tonight' show would qualify for state tax breaks to return to New York City

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ALBANY, N.Y. - If New York isn't trying hard to lure "The Tonight Show" back to Manhattan, it's doing a pretty good impression.

A Cuomo administration official said Thursday that New York is trying to lure TV shows from California with a proposed tax credit program and the "Tonight" show would qualify if it decides to move back to Manhattan. The show moved to Burbank in 1972 when Johnny Carson was host.

But there is no deal with NBC or the "Tonight" show, and the official wouldn't say if the state is trying to attract the show. The person wasn't authorized to comment on any potential deals and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Still, a bill in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pending budget looks like it's all about "Tonight," without ever mentioning the iconic show that began broadcasting in the 1950s from Manhattan and has featured a series of popular hosts — Jack Parr, Steve Allen, Carson, and the current Jay Leno.

The bill expected to be voted into law in coming days would provide a 30 per cent tax credit for a "relocated television production." Past and current tax credits have gone to new productions starting in New York, such as "Law & Order."

The bill also says it is intended for "a talk or variety program that filmed at least five seasons outside the state ... (and) episodes are filmed before a studio audience of at least 200 more" with a budget of at least $30 million.

You don't have be Carson's "Carnac" to make the connection with "Tonight."

The state's ability to help return the "Tonight" show to Manhattan at NBC's 30 Rockefeller Center after decades in California was first reported by the New York Daily News.

NBC confirms it's creating a new studio for Jimmy Fallon in New York, where he hosts "Late Night." But the network did not comment on speculation that it may replace Leno with Fallon and its Rockefeller Plaza headquarters may become home to a Fallon-hosted "Tonight."

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