There is a certain irony here. Although "Tonight" contributes significantly to Burbank's economy, the show also shares responsibilty for Burbank's reputation as a place of unusual ordinariness. The phrase "Beautiful Downtown Burbank"--never said without tongue in cheek, coined in 1968 by Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In announcer, Gary Owens--achieved iconic status on "The Tonight Show," where Johnny Carson roasted used car dealers (take the Slauson cut-off) and damned the host
The imminent departure of the program offers another challenge altogether, and it has produced a more defensive response, as if Burbank without "Tonight" must convince us that the city does, indeed, have other attractions. And so it was that Burbank's mayor, Dave Golonski, found himself showing off Burbank's treasures to LA Times columnist Gale Holland.
And that's where Rome comes in.
As Holland and Golonski toured the city, the Mayor seemed.especially proud of Burbank's AMC top-performing movie theaters, jammed on Friday nights and--this indeed is miraculous in Los Angeles--with free parking. Walking up the stairs to the AMC 16, Golonski remarked, "This is our version of the Spanish Steps in Rome."
It was, apparently, a joke. Along the lines, perhaps, of "Beautiful Downtown Burbank."