I thought you might find this of interest. Who would have guessed that the California power crisis and Gray Davis could be so funny.
Los Angeles Daily News
Friday, June 22, 2001
'Tonight Show' pokes fun at power crisis
By Fred Shuster
BURBANK -- Jay Leno pulled the plug on his late-night chat show Thursday, doing his part for the state's energy crisis, but viewers weren't left in the dark.
Flashlights, mining helmets and multicolor glow sticks helped to illuminate the set for the show dubbed a one-time-only "The Tonight Show Unplugged," which Leno said saved enough electricity to light a house for a month.
The "unplugged" edition of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" pokes fun at the California power crisis(Reed Saxon / A.P.)
Call it NBC's "Can't See TV."
"This is not some cheap rating ploy. ... If this works, they're gonna make us do this every night," Leno joked as part of his opening monologue.
The nationally broadcast show, featuring a comic interlude with California Gov. Gray Davis, utilized just a small amount of electricity to run the cameras, Leno said before the show began.
Actually, in Burbank, where the taping took place at NBC Studios, the city owns the power company and residents and businesses have not been hit by rolling blackouts as in other areas. The city made $5 million in profit in May after racking up $60 million in excess power sales.
But Leno said not using studio lights, TV monitors, amplifiers and other power sources Thursday saved enough electricity to light a four-bedroom house for a month.
Members of the house band wore miner's helmets, with group leader Kevin Eubanks strumming an acoustic guitar rather than his regular electric instrument.
The stage was lit by candles, torches and flashlight beams trained on Leno. Members of the studio audience used the gear to help brighten the set.
"This is real goofy," Leno said before taping got under way. "We'll see what happens." Guests included Arsenio Hall, Gilbert Gottfried, a trainer of nocturnal animals and a Hawaiian fire dancer -- and a brief visit from the governor.
Exuding whatever is the direct opposite of charisma, Davis had a brief exchange with Leno, drawing laughs with the line, "This is the first time Gray Davis and (the word) electricity have ever appeared in the same sentence."
Leno's staff wore glasses with small lights attached and audience prompter Bob Perlow held a hand-scrawled applause sign aloft throughout the show instead of switching on the usual electric model.
While there was little energy in play, there was no shortage of laughs.
Leno joked that President George W. Bush told Davis not to worry because, "I've been operating in the dark for years."
Those in the studio said Leno's nocturnal transmission added excitement to the program.
"It was cool," said Lillie Harrell, 17, a tourist from Hammond, La. "The crowd got really involved. I guess it shows you don't really need all those lights."
Added Jose Tano, 21, a Burbank resident and student at the University of California, Los Angeles, "It was a good idea and a great way to make a point."
The local power company might not have made out very well, but the studio audience didn't end up empty-handed. Each received a fluorescent lantern and pack of batteries as they left the studio.
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