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Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Carson’

Heeeere’s Henry! ‘Bombastic Bushkin’ Recounts Joan Rivers-Edgar Trickery

Cover_JohnnyCarsonIt’s difficult to believe, as Henry Bushkin told us for Mediabistro’s latest “So What Do You Do?“, that he had a hard time initially interesting New York publishers in his tell-all memoir Johnny Carson. But in the end, a book first envisioned as a self-published enterprise has arrived at a time that feels just right, framed by Janet Maislin‘s rave review in the New York Times.

In one unpublished portion of our Mediabistro conversation, Bushkin addressed Carson’s celebrated falling out with Joan Rivers. He reconfirmed his view that it all came down to some very duplicitous actions by Rivers’ late husband Edgar:

“This guy was as shady as you can possibly imagine, right? When I say “Inspector Clouseau”, that’s who he was. But he was the devious Inspector Clouseau. He clearly said that he called me several times, OK? He never called me once. And I’m certain he told his wife, ‘I tried to tell these guys, but Bushkin wouldn’t return my call.’”

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Who Should Play Johnny Carson in the NBC Miniseries?

Our first thought was Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm. But, as a fellow ew.com reader replied to us in the comments, we had the right show but wrong actor. If anyone on the AMC-TV series were to be pegged to embody the original crown prince of late night talk, this person argued, it should be John Slattery.

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The challenge for the makers of this week’s announced NBC series, based on the delayed, forthcoming bio by Bill Zehme, is to find someone who can both sort of look like Johnny and sort of sound like him as well. In The Late Shift, Rich Little played Carson but because he could only carry one half of the challenge, he did not really score a full hit.

We’ve been giving this more thought. Truly, figuring out who could, should play Carson prior to the producers of the miniseries making their choice known is this year’s most fun casting parlor game. Our new suggestion for the Carson role, as of this afternoon, is…

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Seven Words for A Carlin Home Companion

Timely: This weekend’s May 18 performance at the ACME Comedy Theatre of Kelly Carlin’s acclaimed one-woman show A Carlin Home Companion attended by FishbowlLA came on the heels of dad George‘s posthumous birthday (May 12) and ahead of his talented daughter turning the big 5-0 (June 15).

Classic: Carlin intersperses two lively acts with some powerful and selective sourcing of dad’s famous comedy bits. Watching a clean-shaven young George crack up Johnny Carson as hippie weatherman Al Sleet on a 1966 Tonight Show broadcast is especially fun in this context. (Carlin made his first appearance on the program in 1962, pre-Carson, with guest host Mort Sahl.)

Shocking: The play is at times a frank and telling look at Kelly’s struggles growing up as the only child of a road-warrior dad and alcoholic mom. At one point, she reveals the shame and secrecy of a teenage romance with a boy who abused her emotionally and physically. The bittersweet punchline here is that the boyfriend’s (unnamed) mom was an Academy Award winner for Best Actress!

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Downsized at KCRW, Harry Shearer Talks About It with KPCC

It’s always dangerous when the person at the other end of a business decision is also a sharp-witted comedian. To wit, here’s how recently downsized KCRW Le Show host Harry Shearer began his phone interview with KPCC’s Mike Roe:

“I got a message that the [KCRW] general manager wanted to discuss a ‘proposal’ with me, that was her word. I understand broadcast speak to know that that wasn’t, ‘Will you marry me?’”

The KPCC “Without a Net” pop culture blog conversation with Shearer runs a bountiful 30 minutes, so there’s lots of info here not just about getting Le Heave Ho but also topics The Simpsons voiceover maestro has covered on the program like Hurricane Katrina and the foreclosure crisis. One of the KCRW vet’s main beefs appears to be – a la Johnny Carson and Joan Rivers – the fact that he was not given more advance courtesy notice about the KCRW weekend programming move. It was simply, “effective immediately.”

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Joan Rivers Tells Johnny Carson It Still Hurts

Wow. On last night’s episode of WE program JOAN & MELISSA: joan knows best?, the hint of cancer and some bucket list consideration brought up the notion of dancing on Johnny Carson‘s grave. That is, until Joan realized Carson was cremated and his ashes given to family members.

Rivers instead traveled to Johnny Carson Park in Burbank for a posthumous heart-to-heart with her mentor turned tor-mentor. The title of the episode, “The C Word,” refers to cancer. But in this case it also, very sadly, doubles as a reference to the poisoned final chapter of her relationship with Carson.

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The End of a Long, Glorious Tonight Show Run for ‘Beautiful Downtown Burbank’

Sorry, Gary Owens, but one of very best things to ever happen to “beautiful downtown Burbank” is now officially ear-marked for February 2014 east coast relocation. The Tonight Show will soon be Jimmy Fallon‘s to re-invent, within Lorne Michaels walking distance.

As LA Times reporter Joe Flint recently reminded, it was Owens who first coined the phrase as a radio announcer and then made it famous on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Although NBC may well  find a worthy TV ratings successor to occupy the main studio at Alameda and Olive, it will never quite be the same:

Carson, who moved The Tonight Show from New York to Los Angeles in 1972, also used the “beautiful downtown Burbank” line but never tried to take credit for it.

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Hollywood Reporter Delivers a Leno Lollapalooza

You’d think a guy who took a huge pay cut in 2012 on behalf of one of NBC’s few TV ratings hits would be bullet proof within the network’s executive ranks. But while Matthew Belloni’s Hollywood Reporter cover story about Jay Leno does not pinpoint the two “high-level industry sources” that leaked information to colleague Kim Masters for a March 1 item, the embattled Tonight Show host clearly believes the bleed was carved from the Peacock. Rather than, say, a Big Four talent agency or entertainment attorney’s office.

From Belloni’s piece:

Sources say Leno, when he signed his most recent deal, expected it could be his last at the network. But he is said to have been upset by what he perceived to be an NBC leak to THR and by the prospect of another messy transition that would play out in the press.

Can’t blame (the soon-to-be 63-year-old) Leno for that. No comedian likes to be so consistently heckled, even a road warrior like Leno. The prospect of 16 more months of media-amplified cat calls of “You suck!” is no laughing matter.

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Tonight Show Chatter Has LA TV Producer Remembering Carson’s Killer Extra 15 Minutes

David Steinberg, whose many appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson during the show’s New York heyday were surpassed only by those of the late Bob Hope, was recently reminiscing with Jimmy Fallon (in the very same 30 Rock studio) about some of his 140 guest spots. Clips like this take on added resonance in the wake of Wednesday’s bombshell NYT report by Bill Carter that NBC is planning to move the program back to Manhattan in 2014 with Fallon as host.

Three thousand miles away from Studio 6B, our pal Michael Horowicz also couldn’t help but reminisce about some Carson lore anchored to Fallon’s studio. During a trip to New York in the mid-90s, Horowicz and Late Late Show colleague Tom Snyder had dinner with former WNBC weatherman Dr. Frank Field at Bello on Ninth Avenue. Field, to the amazement of his dinner companions, explained that when The Tonight Show was done in New York, it actually started around 11:15 p.m. At the time, NBC affiliates aired only 15 minutes of evening news and so, from 11:15 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. – or so Field claimed – it was him, Johnny, Doc and the gathering band, hanging out on-air to fill the nightly gap.

“Tom and I didn’t believe him,” Horowicz tells FishbowlLA. “We both considered ourselves great students of late night TV, and we’d never heard about this extra 15 minutes. Furthermore, we’d never heard of any NBC affiliate that didn’t do a full 30-minute late news. We honestly thought Frank was full of sh*t, or at least full of sherry.”

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BuzzFeed Writer Remembers the Oscars She Attended Front-Row Center at Age 10

Chief LA correspondent Kate Aurthur shared a bittersweet bit of Oscar history this week at BuzzFeed. In 1980, after the death of her beloved father Robert Alan (aka “Bob”), she traveled to LA with mom to attend the Johnny Carson-hosted ceremony that included a nomination for dad’s original-screenplay work on the Bob Fosse film All That Jazz.

Aurthur isn’t sure why she waited this long to visit the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library on Vine and finally watch the 52nd Annual Academy Awards for the first belated time. But having now done so, she is struck by the ease of Carson as host, how much the show then was not about celebrity and some possible funny business related to dad’s final film project:

My mother swore that [Best Actress presenter and original All That Jazz star] Richard Dreyfuss did a little dance step to taunt Fosse as he walked out to the podium; I will confess I didn’t notice that when I re-watched it. But if you think annoying look-at-me theatrics at awards shows are a recent development — Anne Hathaway haters, take note — you should watch Dreyfuss.

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‘Bombastic Bushkin’ Reveals the Man Behind The Tonight Show Curtain

There are so many great anecdotes in A Hard Act to Follow, attorney Henry Bushkin’s February 19 book about his deeply invested professional and personal relationships with Johnny Carson, that it’s difficult to know where to start. But from an LA perspective, here are a few stories to whet the appetite.

Bushkin recalls the night Carson first used the term “Bombastic Bushkin” in a monologue, right after Tonight Show writer Pat McCormick coined it during a Beverly Hills poker game. Although the talk show host made sure to double check that Bushkin would be OK with the gag, the attorney’s mother was aghast, calling within minutes of the joke being delivered on-air to ask her son if he was about to be canned. The next day, Carson insisted on calling mom personally to reassure that all was well.

Then there’s the first major business deal engineered in LA by Bushkin. Together with several other investors, Carson purchased independent Las Vegas area TV station KVVU (now a FOX affiliate) for $1,000,000. Some ten years later, Bushkin says the station was flipped for $25,000,000.

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