6.9/10
2,703
29 user 9 critic

The Late Shift (1996)

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:

Betty Thomas

Writers:

Bill Carter (book), Bill Carter (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

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

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kathy Bates ... Helen Kushnick
John Michael Higgins ... David Letterman
Daniel Roebuck ... Jay Leno
Bob Balaban ... Warren Littlefield
Ed Begley Jr. ... Rod Perth
Peter Jurasik ... Howard Stringer
Reni Santoni ... John Agoglia
John Kapelos ... Robert Morton
Steven Gilborn ... Peter Lassally
John Getz ... Brandon Tartikoff
Lawrence Pressman ... Bob Wright
Sandra Bernhard ... Sandra Bernhard
Treat Williams ... Michael Ovitz
David Brisbin ... Alan Levine
Michael Chieffo ... 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:

Two heads fighting for the late night crown - One head's gotta roll. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 February 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Late Shift See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

A few days after the film's premiere, John Michael Higgins was booked on Late Show with David Letterman (1993) to talk about the movie and what it was like to portray Letterman. Higgins then sat in the green room as Letterman spent the next hour padding bits and doing filler, all the while promising Higgins was "coming up". At the end of the show Letterman apologized to Higgins for "running out of time", pointedly saying he hoped the actor could "come back again soon." Higgins was never re-booked. See more »

Goofs

In a beach scene when David talks to producer and mentor Peter Lassally, a shot of David from behind shows his eyeglass lenses, which are tinted. In other back and front shots of David, his lenses are clear. See more »

Quotes

Reporter #2: Are you going to bring Paul Shaffer along on the new show?
David Letterman: [deadpan] Paul who? Oh, God! We forgot about Paul. Howard, is there just a little bit left over for Paul?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Subsequent airings after the initial release have added an additional epilogue on how the Hugh Grant interview boosted Jay Leno's ratings past David Letterman's. See more »

Connections

References The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) 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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
I don't know how true it is, but it's mighty entertaining!
11 March 2000 | by AlabamaWorley1971See all my reviews

I think this movie actually has a lot of nice things to say about a lot of people (Johnny Carson, Ted Koppel), and it shows that Letterman and Leno actually liked and respected each other a lot. Treat Williams as the half-Kung Fu Master, half-Godfather-like Mike Ovitz is terrific.


13 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 29 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed