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Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Carson’

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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Longtime KABC 790 Talk Radio Host Ray Briem Passes Away

When Ray Briem retired from KABC in 1994 after 27 years working the AM graveyard shift (!), he told then-LA Times staff writer Claudia Puig he was looking froward to having more time to pursue his hobbies of flying, ham radio and listening to big band music:

“I’m 65 and my body says staying up all night ain’t the right thing to do,” said Briem, whose midnight-to-5 a.m. talk show on KABC is one of the longest-running in the market. “You never get used to it. Your biological clock, your circadian rhythms are always upset. There will be times when I will miss it, but being able to sleep at night – oh, how wonderful! That will more than compensate for the pangs of not having a forum.”

Briem was mentored early on in his career by another name from the halcyon days of LA radio, caustic talk show host Joe Pyne. At the time of his retirement, he was claiming 15.7% of local radio listeners. So he exited, much like Johnny Carson would on the TV side decades later, while still clearly on top.

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Joan Rivers Recalls Her Johnny Carson Heartbreak

Under the THR article headline “Joan Rivers: Why Johnny Carson ‘Never Ever Spoke to Me Again’,” the comedienne thinks that her gender had a lot to with the ill will that erupted from Carson’s end when she decided to see if the late night grass was greener at FOX.

But she also, more pointedly than we can remember, accuses her one-time mentor of being a liar. Rivers writes that the first person she called after being offered a FOX late night show was Carson:

He hung up on me – and never, ever spoke to me again. And then denied that I called him. I couldn’t figure it out…

In the press, he said, “She didn’t call me, and she was so terrible.” When you’ve told the truth and you read a lie, there’s nothing you can do about it. To this day, I’m very angry about that. Don’t f—in’ lie.

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Howard Stringer Still Treasures the Memory of His Lunches with Johnny Carson

What better place for Sir Howard Stringer to reminisce about the great Johnny Carson than the annual Giants of Broadcasting event?

The chairman of Sony’s board was feted at yesterday’s 10th anniversary edition in New York City alongside Norman Lear, Ted Turner, Robert MacNeil, Jim Lehrer, Eric Farber, George Beasley and – posthumously – Don Cornelius and Andy Rooney. Our FishbowlNY colleague Jerry Barmash was able to grab a few minutes with Stringer, who recalled a great fringe benefit of helping orchestrate the successful CBS pursuit of David Letterman:

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Jimmy Fallon Reportedly in Talks to Host Oscars

Jimmy Fallon is about to make the career leap from 30 Rock to the Kodak Theater. No, Fallon is not leaving his Late Night program on NBC, or even taking it on the road to Los Angeles.

Fallon, though, is in talks to host the coveted Academy Awards. The Los Angeles Times reports Fallon would bring his longtime boss, Lorne Michaels, as producer. Fallon first worked for Michaels on Saturday Night Live from 1998 to 2004.

But there is a wrinkle to this arrangement.

ABC, which broadcasts the Oscars, is critical of an NBC host emceeing one of television’s biggest nights of the year. Disney (owner of ABC) chief executive Bob Iger is apparently not liking the idea of giving such an important venue to Fallon, who competes nightly with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel.

There is a precedent, however. Johnny Carson, while at the height of his Tonight Show dominion, helmed five Oscar presentations on ABC.

Billy Crystal, recognized by many as the best all-time Oscar host, had a return engagement in 2012, his first time since 2004, but ninth overall.

The Oscars are set for February 24, 2013.

Photo credit: laughstub.com

Writer Gore Vidal Dead at 86

The prolific novelist, playwright, and essayist passed away at his Hollywood Hills home on Tuesday evening. According to his nephew, complications from pneumonia was the cause of death.

Gore Vidal made Los Angeles home in 2003, but his history with Hollywood is a long one. In 1948, the uproar over his homosexual coming-of-age novel The City and the Pillar saw Vidal blacklisted by the literary world.  For years Vidal was unable to get his work reviewed by critics, and to earn a living he began writing for film, television, and the stage.

The entertainment industry embraced what the literati had rejected, and Vidal enjoyed steady work. Two of his plays, “Visit to a Small Planet” — itself adapted from one of Vidal’s TV scripts — and “The Best Man,” enjoyed success on Broadway before being turned into films. His many screenwriting credits include Suddenly Last Summer with his friend Tennessee Williams, the sexually explicit commercial flop Caligula, and an uncredited stint as script doctor to Ben Hur.

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Joan Rivers Revisits Her Biggest Career Mistake

What more can be said about Johnny Carson that hasn’t already been said? According to Peter Jones, the PBS documentary producer who pursued the late night host for ten years before being curtly turned down, Carson himself certainly believed all had been aired.

Still, for Tonight Show connoisseurs, the upcoming May 14 “American Masters” series documentary on PBS promises a few new tidbits, most notably Joan Rivers revisiting her disastrous decision to not keep Carson properly in the loop about her discussions with FOX. Ray Richmond, the former Hollywood Reporter staffer now helping with Deadline.com’s TCA coverage, has the details from this morning’s Winter Session panel:

“Joan really speaks about that for the first time with us,” Jones said. “She admits that she probably shouldn’t have let Johnny find out about it second-hand. … Johnny never spoke with Joan again. She called him to discuss it with him and he hung up on her. The whole thing with Joan broke Johnny’s heart, it really did.”

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