Now that Conan O'Brien is back on the air and is churning out the comedy on basic cable, it's safe to say that the Second Late Night War is effectively over, or at least it's in a cease fire state. After all the recrimination, the back and forth between Jay Leno, NBC, and O'Brien, and the giggling of Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman from the sidelines, the only question left to ask at this point is a simple one: "What's next for late night?"
I asked Bill Carter, who has followed up his acclaimed 1994 book 'The Late Shift' with 'The War For Late Night: When Leno Went Early And Television Went Crazy,' whether he thought the current late night talk show format, especially at 11:30, is on the decline. "Yes. There's no question," said the New York Times television reporter, who examines the current late night landscape in the new book, a story that culminates in Conan's dramatic exit from NBC last January.
The big reason? Money. Carter details in the book how the recently-dismissed head of NBC's entertainment division, Jeff Gaspin, told him that 'The Tonight Show,' even with Leno restored as its host, will lose money for the first time ever. "I was shocked," he said. "Because this thing used to be a money machine."
No, what most of the people who followed this story thought to themselves was, "I can't wait until I read Bill Carter's book on this mess." After all, the New York Times media reporter wrote 'The Late Shift,' which is considered by many to be the definitive tome on the First Late Night War between Leno and Letterman. So he was in a unique position to write about the inside scoop of how the Second Late Night War went down.
Well, the wait is over, as Vanity Fair has published an excerpt of Carter's 'The War For Late Night,' which Viking will release next month. The excerpt details NBC's January decision to cancel Leno's 10PM show, move him back to 11:35, and push back Conan to 12:05.
Not much in the six-page excerpt is all that news-worthy -- it gives a dramatic narrative to events that most people who followed the story know about already. But one tidbit about Jay Leno's contract with NBC was revealed in the piece: His contract had put NBC over a legal barrel, giving Leno the leverage to sue the network if he was taken off the air.
AOL spoke with Bergeron, who weighed in on 'Castle,' the current -- and arguably most-talked about -- cast of 'Dancing With the Stars,' and how he handles those pesky TMZ.com interviews.
Read the interview after the jump.
It also spawned a pretty decent made-for-TV HBO movie. Now I don't know what kind of craziness "Round Two" has to offer, but the players involved are definitely going to have all sorts of wild secrets revealed from Carter's work and when it does, HBO is going to want the movie rights. So here's who should play who in this new tragic merry-go-round of television programming hilarity that shall be called 'The Late Shift 2'.
Carter told Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's 'Countdown' (video after the jump) that he couldn't tell him everything about what's going on in late night because he had to leave something for the book. He then said a sequel was in the works. If it's anything like the first one it will be a must-read.
'The Late Shift' was made into a goofy but entertaining film starring John Michael Higgins as Dave and Daniel Roebuck (Arzt on 'Lost') as Jay.
Letterman, who was once the heir apparent to Johnny Carson's desk but was passed over in favor of Leno, has thrived on CBS even though he was crushed to lose The Tonight Show. The supposed feud between Letterman and Leno, and their competition for The Tonight Show, was depicted in the HBO film (and Bill Carter book) The Late Shift. (If you've never seen it, buy or rent it; it's one of the best films ever about how TV works behind the scenes.)
Over the weekend, Nikki Finke of LA Weekly reported on her blog that Reilly will be replaced by two people: producer Ben Silverman, whose company brought The Office and Ugly Betty to the U.S., will be in charge of the entertainment side and Marc Graboff, currently NBCU Television's West Coast chief, will run the business side. Bill Carter of The New York Times is also reporting on the change, but in a less definitive manner.
News about NBC's fall schedule continues to trickle out, this time from Bill Carter over at the New York Times.
Looks like the network is going to pick up five dramas: Lipstick Jungle (from Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell), Chuck, Life, Journeyman, and The Bionic Woman. The network has not made a decision on Law and Order or Law and Order: CI yet, but it looks like Friday Night Lights is coming back for a full season.
The shows being canceled? No surprise that Studio 60, The Black Donnellys, and Crossing Jordan are gone, but it's a little bit of a surprise that Scrubs isn't coming back. There's been talk that ABC might take the show, but no official word on that yet.
NBC's upfront announcement is this Monday.
Update: Nikki Finke is reporting that Scrubs has been picked up by NBC, but no other info is available about it.
Now someone in Hollywood has confirmed what I've thought for several years.
George Lopez, comedian and star of his own ABC sitcom, told Florida radio station WOMX hosts Scott and Erica that Leno is "the biggest two-faced dude on TV," and went on to call him a back-stabber. He also said that Leno was bad at interviewing his guests.
Anyone who watches Leno knows that Lopez is right. He's an awesomely bad host, mumbling through introductions, laughing at his own jokes, and rushing through everything so fast he must want to get the hell out of there so he can either go home and write more jokes or maybe play with his car collection. In fact, the whole show is a mess, from the addition of Stuttering John as announcer to Leno's "bits." As for the back-stabbing accusation, I can't speak to that, except to say that everyone should read Bill Carter's book The Late Shift and find out about the Leno vs. Letterman Tonight Show feud.
[via TV Tattle]
Like a lot of people, I'll be out there today spending cash and gift cards I got yesterday. There are a lot of TV-oriented books released every year, and many of them are quite good. Some of them are downright terrible (*cough* TWOP *cough*), but let's focus on the good ones. Below is a list of 10 great TV books to give the TV addict in your family.
1. Hello, Lied The Agent, by Ian Gurvitz: Excellent behind-the-scenes look at how the TV industry works, from a writer/producer of such shows as Wings, Becker, and Get A Life. He talks about the dos and don'ts for Hollywood writers, pitch meetings, cancellations, shows the journal he kept a few years ago, and even talks about the new shows that have debuted in the past couple of years. Very informative and just really, really funny.
Since the video of the pilot was posted on the video site, it's been viewed over 300,000 times and has gotten very good feedback from viewers. Because of this, it's getting another look by various networks, including Comedy Central and ABC. But since NBC owns the show, it still has the first shot at it. And the show with which NBC is thinking of pairing Lawerence's baby? You guessed it -- Scrubs.
1. ER was originally set in Boston, but NBC already had St. Elswhere set there, so they asked for the setting to be changed. Chicago was chosen "for no especially good reason."
Hopefully, Carter can bring his sense of "you are there" style to his latest book, Desperate Networks, which is due out on May 2. In the book, Carter explores the eventful and historic 2004-05 season from a few different angles: the fall of NBC, the slow-and-steady rise of CBS, the great new ABC shows that came on the air (Lost, Housewives), the retirement/departures of all three network anchors, and that nutso FOX network. The publisher's blurb on Amazon promises that Carter will be giving readers a lot of behind-the-scenes dirt, so I'm looking forward to getting this book. Is a TV Squad book review in the cards...? We'll see...
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