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October 25, 2014

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What You Missed Last Night: Dick Cavett on 'Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 11th 2010 3:06PM
Dick Cavett should have a talk show again. We need someone on regularly who is a bit calmer, a bit more thoughtful/smart than what we have now. Charlie Rose is fine, but Cavett would be a welcome addition. Last night he was on 'Late Night' and Jimmy Fallon even recreated the set from his '70s talk show! After the interview (after the jump), Cavett does a magic trick.

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New 'Late Shift' Book in the Works

by Bob Sassone, posted Feb 11th 2010 1:26PM
The Late ShiftIf you've never read the 1994 book 'The Late Shift' by New York Times media writer Bill Carter, you've missed one of the great television books. It's a fascinating, odd, and most importantly, true (truth really is stranger than fiction when it comes to late night) look at the late night wars (the first one, not the second) that happened after Johnny Carson left 'The Tonight Show.' Now Carter says he's working on a sequel.

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.

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Joan Rivers comments about NBC, Leno, and Conan

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 27th 2010 9:00AM
Joan RiversJoan Rivers was in the middle of a previous late night feud in the 1980s, so she has a unique perspective on the talk show wars. I've been wondering whose side she would be on. Is it Team Leno? Team Conan? Team NBC? What does Rivers have to say about the chaos involving NBC, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and The Tonight Show?

"They can all f**k themselves."

[via Roger Ebert]

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Here's Conan's 2004 announcement about taking over The Tonight Show

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 18th 2010 4:30PM
Earlier today we posted video of a 2004 Jay Leno telling his Tonight Show audience that Conan O'Brien would take over the show in 2009, and how it's right to hand it over to someone like Conan who is a gentleman and funny. Now here's Conan's thoughts at the same time. He thanks everyone at NBC and says that hosting The Tonight Show is something he has always dreamed about.

[via TV Tattle]

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Jay Leno and the missed opportunity

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 18th 2010 1:15PM
jay_leno_the_tonight_showIt's been quite an amazing time at NBC the past ten days. The Jay Leno exit from prime time. The proposed 11:35-12:05-1:05 juggle. Conan's manifesto to the people of the earth. NBC executives lashing out and labeling Conan a failure and chicken-hearted. Jeff Zucker threatening Conan and his intellectual properties. And then the subsiding tide that will have The Tonight Show regressing, possibly becoming less an American television institution and more an American artifact of a time gone by.

Lost amid all this wrangling and back and forth is one fact that is undeniable. When NBC came up with the idea of all-Leno, all the time at 10 p.m. prime time, the network was giving him a precious gift. Jay Leno had been given Aladdin's lamp. NBC handed him an hour -- five hours -- of prime time television with an open invitation to create a new show. Imagine if that offer were made to another performer.

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Dear NBC: Just Let Jay Leno Go

by Gary Susman, posted Jan 12th 2010 6:30PM
Dear NBC,

There's a simple solution to your late-night dilemma, though you're not going to like it: Let Jay Leno go.

He's given you decades of yeoman service, including 14 years of top ratings on 'The Tonight Show.' But his time has passed. It's time to thank him for his invaluable contribution to the network, hand him a gold watch and let him spend the rest of his days puttering in his garage or doing stand-up in Vegas.

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Conan says no to 12:05 Tonight Show - BREAKING

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 12th 2010 3:35PM
Tonight ShowWell, it's official: Conan O'Brien has said no to NBC. He doesn't want to do a 12:05 Tonight Show. (Full statement by Conan after the jump).

You can tell that the statement was well-thought out and carefully worded. But you also get the sense that Conan isn't happy at all with what has happened. He grew up watching Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and you can tell that he wanted it not just for the money, but for the tradition, the history, and especially the time slot. He doesn't think that a 12:05 Tonight Show will even really be a Tonight Show. He even uses the word "destruction" when talking about what NBC is doing to their late night lineup and The Tonight Show.

He doesn't have another offer, but it looks like he's gone if they can't come to some agreement. Then the last year will be like Bobby Ewing in the shower. It never happened, and Jay will be back at 11:35.

(Update: NBC told the bevy of reporters in Pasadena that tonight, Conan will host a new episode of The Tonight Show. So for those of you who were rooting for The Tonight Show with Andy Richter, you'll have to keep waiting.)

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What You Missed Last Night: Letterman's comments about NBC

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 12th 2010 12:45PM
While all of the crazy things are happening over at NBC (something they must be a bit embarrassed about but at the same time loving the attention that Jay and Conan are getting), one of the winners might be David Letterman. He's over there on CBS, safe in his job, chuckling that he already went through all of this years ago. Last night he made some comments about it, first in his monologue and then (after the jump) at his desk.

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Oprah's exit is like Johnny Carson leaving The Tonight Show

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 21st 2009 11:02AM
oprah_winfrey_head_shotAfter watching The Oprah Winfrey Show today and hearing her teary announcement about her decision to end her syndicated talk show, I had one thought in my head. Oprah Winfrey is doing a Johnny Carson. She's writing her own script (no pun intended). Oprah is leaving while she's still wanted, while she's still strong, and by setting the date 18 months down the road, she's giving herself a victory tour.

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.

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Our Favorite TV Sidekicks: They're the True Stars of the Talk Shows

by Liane Bonin, posted Nov 18th 2009 4:14PM
On June 23, 2009, the trademark laugh of the greatest sidekick of all time was silenced as Ed McMahon floated up to the great sidekick couch on the sky. While Publisher's Clearing House commercials and 'Star Search' reruns will never be the same, the good news is that McMahon, who rose up in the wake of some pretty stellar sidekicks himself, set the bar high for those to follow.

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.

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New TV on DVD releases this week

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 5th 2009 6:00PM
Heeere's JohnnyHere are the new TV DVDs, in stores tomorrow.

Not only is The Lola Falana Show on DVD now, I didn't even know there was a Lola Falana Show. I knew that there was a Lola Falana (that's a fun name to say: Lola Falana Lola Falana Lola Falana). She was a dancer and actress who was pretty well known back in the 70s, but her TV show escaped my radar. This set includes guest stars Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cosby, Sonny and Cher, and Muhammad Ali.

There's also a Heeere's Johnny: The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson "Holiday Set." It looks like the same set that I've owned for a couple of years (several DVDs split up into different categories: Timeless Moments, Standup Comedians, Carson Country, and the original Ultimate Collection disc), but with a special Christmas disc thrown in, with three classic episodes.
  • Ally McBeal - Season 1 and Complete Series
  • Astroboy - Vols 1 and 2
  • Blood Ties - Season 2

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Macy's magical commercial: 150 years in the making

by Allison Waldman, posted Sep 27th 2009 5:20PM
macys_worlds_largest_storeRecently, when I shared my view about a certain Dell computer commercial, some of you thought I was a moron. Okay, we'll call it a difference of opinion. However, just to show you that I'm not a grumpster, allow me to extol the virtues of the Macy's commercial that celebrates this iconic American department story that's been around for over 150 years.

What makes The Magic of Macy's so much fun is that it doesn't tell you why the place is legendary, it shows you why. All those film clips from movies and television, years before anyone was using mentions like these for commercial purposes, underscore how much a part of pop culture Macy's was.

(It still is, to some extent, but the days of one brick and mortar store dominating the business landscape are long gone.)

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New book gets behind the scenes with Letterman, Leno, Robin Williams and more

by Nick Zaino, posted Sep 15th 2009 9:02AM
I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and high times in stand-up comedy's golden eraAnyone who's interested in the Leno/Letterman relationship, the feeding frenzy in the late 70s and early 80s when networks were sweeping up stand-up comedians and changing their lives overnight, and the importance and mechanics of getting a spot on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show needs to read William Knoedelseder's new book, I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era.

The centerpiece of the book is the labor discontent between comedians and the Comedy Store that kicked up in 1979, when comedians saw the money coming into the venue and started to wonder why some of the working comics there had to borrow money for breakfast. It's a compelling and unexpected story, and it collects names big and small from television history along the way.

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Don Rickles on the D-List, The Tonight Show, and more

by Nick Zaino, posted Jul 7th 2009 2:03PM
Don RicklesIt's always great to see Don Rickles on TV. He's rarely out of form, and he has a knack for sailing some great zingers past the censors. Which means his appearance on last night's My Life on the D-List was a perfect opportunity, a place where he could be a bit more loose.

We got a taste of that from him, walking around Kathy Griffin's house, but we also got a glimpse of the guy I have heard about from comedians who've met Rickles - the old softie who is ever willing to talk shop with other comics. It was a great moment when Griffin and Rickles talked about how both of their mothers would try to tell them not to pick on people so much, with Griffin's mom providing a bit of the dialogue. Meeting Rickles was on Griffin's mother's "bucket list."

I thought I'd use the occasion to take a look around YouTube to find some of Rickles' best TV appearances. He seems to have been everywhere, from The View to cable.

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Vandals deface Ed McMahon's Walk of Fame star

by Bob Sassone, posted Jun 29th 2009 10:06AM
Jeez, Ed McMahon just can't catch a break. First his death last week is overshadowed by the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, and now someone put some sort of black goo and ripped newspapers on his Hollywood Walk of Fame Star.

Ed McMahon's star

But this particular story has a happy ending, as you'll see after the jump.

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