6.9/10
2,744
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
Popularity
3,217 ( 1,844)

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

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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
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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:

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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

24 February 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Late Shift See more »

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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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In this film, Bob Balaban played NBC President Warren Littlefield. He also played the character Russell Dalrymple on Seinfeld (1989), the NBC executive who was inspired by Littlefield. 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

Reporter #3: Are you gonna kick Jay Leno's ass?
David Letterman: I'm gonna kick your ass, buddy.
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 Godfather (1972) 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 »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent account of the late night wars.
20 July 2000 | by erasmus9See all my reviews

Captivating tale of backstabbing behind the curtains. The movie follows the plight of David Letterman and Jay Leno as they struggle for the elusive Tonight Show spot. Letterman led by his desire for the coveted time slot and Leno led by his agent and little-devil-on-the-shoulder, Helen Kushnick.

Kathy Bates (Kushnick) is excellent in this movie, alienating herself from such top dogs as Bob Wright, Warren Littlefield, and Howard Stringer. Towards the end of the film you are so entranced with how she handles every situation from guest bookings to delayed taping, that you find yourself wanting more.

John Michael Higgins (Letterman) plays his part to the tee. At times I found myself wondering if he was any relation to the real Letterman.

I highly recommend this movie to anyone interested in entertainment or the world of corporate negotiations.


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