The mini-series will actually be about the rise of the first three hosts of 'The Tonight Show': Steve Allen, Jack Paar and of course Johnny. It will focus on NBC's history of screwing them over (except for Carson, who managed to beat them at their own game). If done with tremendous historical detail to the level of 'Mad Men,' it could be very good.
That's likely the direction they're going in since the project has been described as "The Rat Pack version of 'The Late Shift.'" A&E would actually be a good channel to host this concept, but more likely it will go to one of the premium channels like HBO.
So who should play Johnny? Please don't say Rich Little. It's been done.
This is very much like Johnny Carson's decision to leave The Tonight Show. The difference, of course, is that Oprah's show is not an established landmark entity like The Tonight Show, which had Steve Allen and Jack Paar as hosts before Carson. No, Oprah was/is The Oprah Winfrey Show. She will not leave it behind for someone else to inherit the throne. She's taking the throne with her.
Perhaps he set it too high, though, as newcomers to the talk show field like Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson have chosen to fly solo on their talk shows. And that's a shame. Like wine in a box and BBC America series, these straight men of the chat circuit are all too often underappreciated and overshadowed but consistently, inconspicuously deliver the goods.
Jack Paar, who took over the reins from Steve Allen in '57, put the show on the map, with big-name guests and outspoken antics. Johnny Carson, who stepped in when Paar left, made the show appointment viewing for millions of fans and became one of the most beloved TV hosts of all time.
Now, with Jay Leno's last 'Tonight Show' airing Fri., May 29, and Conan O'Brien taking the desk while Leno makes the unprecedented move to prime time, to a 10 PM slot in the fall, we look back and count down the top 20 moments of 'The Tonight Show.'
Jay Leno is currently celebrating his 15th anniversary on that late night talk show that I refuse to name because I hate associating the show that Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Johnny Carson once hosted with Leno. I won't go into all the reasons why (I've talked about it before), but let's just say the guy is incredibly lame and unfunny.
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