Jimmy and the muppets

Here was how “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” ended its run Friday night:

In case you don’t know, there’s a connection between Jimmy and the Muppets, one I read about a couple of years ago and which Jimmy explained briefly Friday night. Many years ago, the Muppets were set to appear on the “Tonight Show” with Jack Paar. They had to be at 30 Rock quite early, for rehearsals or some such, and ended up with some time to kill. Jim Henson, Frank Oz and some others at one point ended up killing time by painting Muppet-like faces on some exposed pipes that were part of the building’s heating system. No one thought anything of it; they were just killing time.

The painted characters remained there for decades. When “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” was on, and Jimmy Fallon was a cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” the pipes were in a closet in the dressing room used by Max Weinberg, then Conan’s bandleader. Jimmy saw them and was amazed, and he would bring friends and family to see them, an annoyance about which Weinberg was apparently good-natured.

When Jimmy took over “Late Night,” he wanted to see that the characters were preserved, and he got NBC to do some remodeling. Some walls were moved so that the pipes were no longer in anyone’s dressing room, and in fact they could be shown to the public as part of the 30 Rock tour. When Frank Oz appeared on the show, and Jimmy showed him the characters, he was moved to tears by the fact that they were still there after all these years.

I just think that’s a neat story.

Jimmy’s “Tonight Show” will be done in that same area of 30 Rock, in the same studio Jimmy used for most of his “Late Night” run. “Late Night” moved to a smaller studio a few months ago so that the larger one could be renovated and expanded for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” So the Muppets will continue to be Jimmy’s neighbors for a while to come.