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The Late Shift (TV Movie 1996) - Plot Summary Poster

(1996 TV Movie)

Plot Summary

  • 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>
  • Based on the true events concerning the selection of a late night TV talk-show host. Johnny Carson was nearing the end of his 30 year role as host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962), and TV executives were desperate to sign the best replacement host. The choice was between Jay Leno and David Letterman. The choice was not simple or straightforward because other TV networks were also interested in both contenders. What went on behind the scenes defies belief.

    - Written by Rob Hartill
  • 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".

    - Written by Kenneth Chisholm

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