A dramatization of the rivalry between David Letterman and Jay Leno to over which of them would succeed Johnny Carson as the host of "The Tonight Show".

Director:

Writers:

(book), (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
3,835 ( 277)

Watch Now

$0.00 (SD) with Prime Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Meet the Hitlers is a feature documentary that examines the relationship between names and identity, by exploring the lives of people who are linked by the name 'Hitler.' The film raises ... See full summary »

Director: Matthew Ogens
Stars: Deborah Campbell, Heath Campbell, David Gardner
Game Change (TV Movie 2012)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska becomes Sen. John McCain's running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

Director: Jay Roach
Stars: Ed Harris, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson
Path to War (TV Movie 2002)
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In the mid-1960s, President Johnson and his foreign-policy team debate the decision to withdraw from or escalate the war in Vietnam.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Michael Gambon, Donald Sutherland, Alec Baldwin
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An inside look at former FLDS teens who have become religious refugees in mainstream America.

Directors: Tyler Measom, Jennilyn Merten
Stars: Bruce Barlow, Deloy Bateman, Michelle Benward
Breast Men (TV Movie 1997)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A movie about two doctors who created breast implants as this follows them over the years. However, when success and money come their way, they separate and follow different paths.

Director: Lawrence O'Neil
Stars: David Schwimmer, Chris Cooper, Emily Procter
Comedy Central Presents (TV Series 1998)
Documentary | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Stars: Mike Birbiglia, Todd Barry, Lewis Black
Late Shift I (2016)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Matt, a smart student, has to prove his innocence after being forced to take part in a bold heist at a famous London auction house. The consequences take him on a journey across London to ... See full summary »

Director: Tobias Weber
Stars: Joe Sowerbutts, Haruka Abe, Richard Durden
Dinner for Five (TV Series 2001)
Comedy | Talk-Show
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

Actor/Director Jon Favreau hosts an evening with four Hollywood friends (four different people or combinations of people each episode), who casually discuss the craft of acting and the ... See full summary »

Stars: Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kevin James
Phil Spector (TV Movie 2013)
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A drama centered on the relationship between Phil Spector and defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden while the music business legend was on trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Al Pacino, Helen Mirren, Jeffrey Tambor
Girl Shy (1924)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A shy, young man, who is completely incapable of talking to women, decides to write a book that details to other bachelors how to find a girlfriend.

Directors: Fred C. Newmeyer, Sam Taylor
Stars: Harold Lloyd, Jobyna Ralston, Richard Daniels
Recount (TV Movie 2008)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A chronicle of the weeks after the 2000 U.S. presidential election and the subsequent recounts in Florida.

Director: Jay Roach
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Bob Balaban, Denis Leary
The Howard Stern Show (1990–1993)
Comedy | Talk-Show
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Howard Stern's short lived WWOR-TV Channel 9 show.

Stars: Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Jackie Martling
Edit

Cast

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

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Changement de décors  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Both David Letterman and Jay Leno were vocal in their disapproval of the film, with Letterman calling it "the single biggest waste of film since my wedding photos." In an interview he said his self-loathing tendencies were overplayed, in particular a scene where he throws baseballs at an archery target, and he also took issue with the orange/brown hair color given to the actor who played him, John Michael Higgins. See more »

Goofs

Reflected in Jay's car door when Helen walks up with a letter of termination from Agolia. See more »

Quotes

David Letterman: [embarrassed] How can a television show be worth all this embarrassment?
See more »

Connections

References Maury (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

There's No Business Like Show Business
Performed by Ethel Merman
Written by Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin Music Company
Courtesy RCA Victor Red Seal Division of BMG Classics
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A Fascinating Look at one of Hollywood's most interesting Power Struggles
16 May 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

THE LATE SHIFT was an interesting made for HBO movie that took a detailed look at the power struggle that ensued between David Letterman and Jay Leno when Johnny Carson announced his retirement and both wanted to replace him. This struggle is now part of Hollywood folklore, but for those who don't know the story and are aware of where Letterman is now, it might be interesting to learn that David Letterman wanted to replace Johnny Carson as host of THE TONIGHT SHOW more than anything in the world, but Letterman found his dreams being derailed as frequent guest host Leno had one of Hollywood's most powerful agents, Helen Kushnick, in his corner and working tirelessly to get her client the job. It's not often that we get to see behind the scenes Hollywood machinations recreated for entertainment value, but for fans of these two late night superstars, this movie provided a fascinating look at a very turbulent period in late night television. According to this movie, Letterman was practically promised the job by Carson himself while NBC had promised the job to Leno and that's where Helen Kushnick came in. The movie presents Leno as sort of a milquetoast who allowed his career to be manipulated by Kushnick and feigned ignorance to some of Helen's strong-willed manipulations of some of NBC's biggest power players and it presents Letterman as this smart and savvy businessman who, despite having Carson's support, was railroaded by NBC and Kushnick. John Michael Higgins and Daniel Roebuck credibly recreate Letterman and Leno, respectively, but it is the razor-sharp performance of Oscar winner Kathy Bates as Helen Kushnick that keeps this movie bubbling. Bates commands the screen in one of her best, if not so well-known performances as the venomous Hollywood agent who eats television studio executives for breakfast. There is also a wonderful turn by impressionist Rich Little as Johnny Carson, but it is primarily a fascinating story and the powerhouse performance by Bates that make this one worth checking out.


13 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Why I think Letterman was not offered the tonight show JAlexa9898
What if Johnny Carson had done this JAlexa9898
Leno's Role in the Original Late Night War Should be Re-thought princeofvoodoo
Treat Williams BEST performance xabat77
My favorite Kathy Bates performance EVER!!! jcouncil-1
Talked 19990305
Discuss The Late Shift (1996) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?