A dramatization of the rivalry to be the successor of Johnny Carson as the host of "The Tonight Show."

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(book), (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Rod Perth
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Howard Stringer
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John Agoglia
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Bob Wright
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Sandra Bernhard
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Alan Levine
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Rick Ludwin
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Storyline

HBO movie about the behind-the-scenes network politics responsible for the changes in late-night talk-show hosts, after the retirement of Johnny Carson from the Tonight Show on NBC. Jay Leno and David Letterman were both vying for the position, but Leno's tough manager Helen Kushnick got him the spot. In the wake of her 'stepping on the toes' of powerful network executives and 'playing hardball' tactics with guest bookings, she found herself being pushed out of her job as Tonight Show Executive Producer and Jay's manager. Letterman, devastated by his being passed over, brought in superagent Mike Ovitz to negotiate on his behalf, resulting in his move to CBS. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Letterman, Leno and the battle over the Tonight Show. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

24 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Changement de décors  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to John Michael Higgins, after he was cast as David Letterman, he avoided watching Late Night with David Letterman (1982) because he did not want to do an impersonation of Letterman. See more »

Goofs

When Letterman is doing his show, Robert Morton and Peter Lassally appear in the wings and speak to Letterman. In the next scene, the three are speaking in Letterman's office after the show and Lassally is wearing a different suit. See more »

Quotes

Jay Leno: I may look stupid, but I'm Italian. I know how to find information!
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Connections

References Empty Nest (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Johnny's Theme
Written by Paul Anka and Johnny Carson
Chrysalis Standards, Inc. / Here's Johnny Music / Songs of Polygram Int'l
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User Reviews

 
Enjoyable Behind-the-Scenes Look at Television
11 August 2002 | by (Fairfax, VA) – See all my reviews

Although a made for cable film by HBO, it is an enjoyable movie and a fascinating look at the back-stabbing and double-dealing world of television. Allowing the viewer to peek behind the scenes of the so-called late night talk show wars in the early 90s, as Jay Leno and David Letterman competed for the coveted position as host of the Tonight Show. Kathy Bates gives a bravo performance as Leno's mercurial manager Helen Kushnick and one can feel empathy for what Leno/Letterman endured at the hands of tv executives. It is just as timely now, considering the recent events involving the failed attempt by ABC to replace Nightline with Letterman. No matter how many times I have seen this film, I still find it as much a pleasure to watch as I did when it first aired. If this should ever be released on DVD, I would certainly add it to my collection.


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