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April 18, 2021 12:56 pm  #1


Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

The all-news network will put the endless political coverage aside for an hour with a new documentary series, "The History of Late Night." The show looks back at 60 years of late-night TV in the U.S., ranging from The Tonight Show - and the drama involving Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien - to the Steve Allen days. I'm hoping there will also be segments about other networks' attempts to gain a foothold against Johnny Carson, and generally failing until Letterman came along. 

"The docuseries features archival footage of late-night legends such as Johnny CarsonJay Leno and David Letterman, alongside interviews with today’s popular comedic voices including, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Chelsea Handler, Trevor Noah, Conan O’Brien, Seth Meyers, James Corden, Amber Ruffin, Desus & Mero, Whoopi GoldbergW. Kamau Bell, and many more. Behind-the-scenes decision makers including Lorne Michaels and Jeff Zucker are also featured giving their first-hand accounts of an entertainment medium that changed the face of television forever."

The first show airs on Sunday, May 2nd and goes for six weeks. There will also be a podcast that will accompany it. 

I like it when CNN does these kinds of things, but they can be very hard to keep up with and see them all. In the past, breaking news has delayed or outright cancelled some of its scheduled docuseries and I often have trouble catching up to all six parts. I'm hoping that won't happen this time.

CNN's The Story Of Late Night

https://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2021/03/SoLN_KeyArt_1080x1920_Dated.jpg

 

April 18, 2021 1:40 pm  #2


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

We even had someone try and compete with Carson - Peter Gzowski did a late-night show in the 70s, but I believe it was a flop.

 

April 18, 2021 2:03 pm  #3


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Don't think I have one for Gzowski, but who can forget these CBC-TV classics? (Or more to the point, who would want to remember them?) The first one is from 1978, the latter from 1992.

https://i.ibb.co/hdN7Hcy/CBC-Fall-Preview-Sept-1978.jpg

https://i.ibb.co/F0mjS42/CBC-Friday-Night-With-Ralph-Bermergui-Oct-1992-0001.jpg

     Thread Starter
 

April 18, 2021 3:17 pm  #4


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Do you notice Jimmy Kimmel is missing from the photos?

 

April 18, 2021 3:34 pm  #5


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

I hadn't but you're right. I hope that's just a lack of room in the pic. Is it possible he didn't cooperate or wasn't asked? I can't imagine he would not be included. His is the first real ABC show that's ever really been able to compete in late night, beyond Nightline (which should also be included in a show about late night TV.) If you go back far enough, ABC tried to beat Carson with Joey Bishop back in 1967. It flopped, although it did feature one future huge star as his Ed McMahon-like sidekick - Regis Philbin. 

And by the way, who can forget Chevy Chase's foray into late night talk on Fox - although everyone involved would certainly like to!

     Thread Starter
 

April 18, 2021 3:44 pm  #6


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

This oughtta fit the bill, RA.

LOL




 

 

April 18, 2021 4:13 pm  #7


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

John D wrote:

Do you notice Jimmy Kimmel is missing from the photos?

I was going to comment with that.  They have every major 11:30 pm host in recent decades except him.  He's the first host you hear in the trailer for the podast so he did take part.

Last edited by Prod Guy (April 18, 2021 4:20 pm)

 

April 18, 2021 4:39 pm  #8


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Good catch on Jimmy Kimmel, John D.  Didn't Solway do a late night show on CHCH? 

Dial Twister's Iggy Pop interview on CBC - was Gzowski LIVE to air? 

And a separate question for the live to air side of the biz:

Can you talk about a situation that was happening LIVE to hot mic, similar to Iggy Pop presumably mind altered, where you were weighing options and what were they?  The year may be relevant.  In 1977, Gzowski clearly carried himself well for the time.  Is it even the host's call any longer?

 

Last edited by Bentwater (April 18, 2021 4:43 pm)

 

April 18, 2021 4:48 pm  #9


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Bentwater wrote:

Good catch on Jimmy Kimmel, John D.  Didn't Solway do a late night show on CHCH? 

Solway, was, indeed on a late night show on CHCH, as the ad below attests. 

https://i.ibb.co/2hNx10Y/Larry-Solway-CHCH-TV-Ad.jpg

     Thread Starter
 

April 18, 2021 5:05 pm  #10


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Bentwater wrote:

Good catch on Jimmy Kimmel, John D.  Didn't Solway do a late night show on CHCH? 

Dial Twister's Iggy Pop interview on CBC - was Gzowski LIVE to air? 

And a separate question for the live to air side of the biz:

Can you talk about a situation that was happening LIVE to hot mic, similar to Iggy Pop presumably mind altered, where you were weighing options and what were they?  The year may be relevant.  In 1977, Gzowski clearly carried himself well for the time.  Is it even the host's call any longer?

 

Gzowski’s show was called 90 Minutes Live and was discussed on CBC TV’s 50th anniversary special in 2002 (incidentally just a few months after Gzowski’s death); I would presume it was live, or at least live-to-tape for re-airing in other time zones. There was a clip of him accidentally cutting himself on a food processor blade while interviewing Pierre Berton, complete with blood; I doubt that would have been aired if it was pre-taped. But I’m not 100% sure.

Last edited by MJ Vancouver (April 18, 2021 5:07 pm)

 

April 18, 2021 5:12 pm  #11


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

From Wiki.....90 Minutes Live was a Canadian television late-night talk show, which aired on CBC Television from April 19, 1976, to May 12, 1978. The program aired weekday evenings at 11:30 p.m.Hosted by Peter Gzowski, the program was patterned after CBC Radio's This Country in the Morning, with both current affairs and entertainment features. Other personalities associated with the program included Allan FotheringhamRick MoranisAndre GagnonAnne DitchburnDanny FinklemanValri BromfieldJohn Harvard and Flo & Eddie.The program was not successful with CBC audiences,[1][2] and was replaced in 1978 by Canada After Dark.[3]"
 

 

April 18, 2021 5:14 pm  #12


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

The inaugural episode...
https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1776898296
 

 

April 18, 2021 6:46 pm  #13


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Jimmy Kimmel?

RadioActive wrote:

I hadn't but you're right. I hope that's just a lack of room in the pic. Is it possible he didn't cooperate or wasn't asked? I can't imagine he would not be included. His is the first real ABC show that's ever really been able to compete in late night, beyond Nightline (which should also be included in a show about late night TV.) If you go back far enough, ABC tried to beat Carson with Joey Bishop back in 1967. It flopped, although it did feature one future huge star as his Ed McMahon-like sidekick - Regis Philbin. 

And by the way, who can forget Chevy Chase's foray into late night talk on Fox - although everyone involved would certainly like to!

Your initial post and the CNN linked story includes a quote which references interviews including Kimmel.
 

Last edited by Media Observer (April 18, 2021 6:50 pm)

 

April 18, 2021 7:11 pm  #14


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

You're right. I think John & I were looking at the poster, where Kimmel is noticeably absent. 

I just hope they don't give short shrift to pioneers like Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Merv Griffin and others. I'm not sure how much Paar footage is still left (beyond the infamous time he walked off the set over what we would now see as a rather innocuous and not very funny censored joke.)

I do know after the early Carson shows were erased (or otherwise not saved) he wisely took control of them and by 1971, had everything preserved for posterity. They still exist in a temperature-controlled underground vault in Kansas. If this had been available or done earlier, imagine the TV history that might have been saved - including Carson's inaugural appearance after he took over the legendary show, with special guest Groucho Marx. I believe audio of it exists, but the video is gone forever. 


     Thread Starter
 

April 19, 2021 12:39 am  #15


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

RadioActive wrote:

You're right. I think John & I were looking at the poster, where Kimmel is noticeably absent. 

There's another version which includes more hosts.
https://ibb.co/qpsPVwx

 

April 19, 2021 6:43 am  #16


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

While no video exists of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show premiere, 29 minutes of the Sept 27, 1954 series first episode exists on Uncle Earl's Classic TV channel. Portions of six other Steve Allen era episodes from 1954 and 1956 are also on Earl's site. Two complete episodes of Broadway Open House from 1950/51 are also viewable. It was the series that I believe eventually morphed into Tonight.

 

April 26, 2021 8:53 pm  #17


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

I am really looking forward to this series.  The producer of this six part docuseries is Bill Carter who wrote two late night best sellers, The Late Shift and The War for Late Night.  Interesting that this CNN Original program was produced by a Canadian film company Cream Productions, who are based in Toronto. 

 TV writer Bill Brioux has an interview/podcast with Bill Carter from 2019 when he was here in Toronto working on the show.  The series was bumped back because of COVID and the riot meltdown in January at the US Capitol.
https://www.buzzsprout.com/1529933/8351333 

 

April 28, 2021 2:27 pm  #18


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Watching Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night, noticed a few of the CNN promos for The History of Late Night TV.  This is rare for CNN to do this on another network but it is a smart move.  I am sure they did the same on the Tonight Show and Stephen Colbert among others. 

Another odd one is FOX buying time on CNN to promote their series Let's Be Real which returns tomorrow.  This looks to be like the British Spitting Image program with politicians as caricature puppets.  FOX has had quite a few commercials for this show on CNN over the past week.

 

April 28, 2021 3:02 pm  #19


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Something tells me that you wouldn’t have seen that if the main Fox Network was still owned by News Corp and not Disney.

 

April 28, 2021 4:36 pm  #20


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Lots of interesting comments here.  I'm also looking forward to the series. 

 I believe all of the US networks routinely erased the masters of early shows to re-use the tapes.  It appears the CBC did better because you see lot of clips of early shows from time to time.  Maybe some ended up in the National Archives.  The BBC also erased tapes -- I have read that Terry Jones bought the Monty Python masters to save them from being erased.  So the BBC had to approach him when it decided to re-air the shows due to public demand.

 I saw a few of the Gzowski shows in the 70's.  The highlight was Robin Williams before Mork and Mindy.  You can imagine how funny he was.  Gzowski replayed parts of that show on his final night, calling it the show's best moment ever.  Paul Soles may have been a slightly better host, but neither show was very interesting most nights,  It's still hard to believe Canada can't do a good late-night show with all of our talent, past and present.

 

April 28, 2021 10:21 pm  #21


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

paterson1 wrote:

Watching Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night, noticed a few of the CNN promos for The History of Late Night TV.  This is rare for CNN to do this on another network but it is a smart move.  I am sure they did the same on the Tonight Show and Stephen Colbert among others. 

Another odd one is FOX buying time on CNN to promote their series Let's Be Real which returns tomorrow.  This looks to be like the British Spitting Image program with politicians as caricature puppets.  FOX has had quite a few commercials for this show on CNN over the past week.

Tonight an ad for the Late Night documentary ran on USA during an SVU episode.

 

April 28, 2021 11:16 pm  #22


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

dieter wrote:

Lots of interesting comments here.  I'm also looking forward to the series. 

 I believe all of the US networks routinely erased the masters of early shows to re-use the tapes.  It appears the CBC did better because you see lot of clips of early shows from time to time.  Maybe some ended up in the National Archives.  The BBC also erased tapes -- I have read that Terry Jones bought the Monty Python masters to save them from being erased.  So the BBC had to approach him when it decided to re-air the shows due to public demand.

 I saw a few of the Gzowski shows in the 70's.  The highlight was Robin Williams before Mork and Mindy.  You can imagine how funny he was.  Gzowski replayed parts of that show on his final night, calling it the show's best moment ever.  Paul Soles may have been a slightly better host, but neither show was very interesting most nights,  It's still hard to believe Canada can't do a good late-night show with all of our talent, past and present.

Couldn't agree more dieter.  It almost an embarrassment that there is no English Canadian late night talk show.  You don't give up just because Gzowski and Benmergui didn't work out.  Mike Bullard was the most successful and really had his moments, but he had as many people who didn't like him as did.  Strombo wasn't late night but overall was a good show. Get a laid back, funny entertaining host, keep the show relatively light and talk to the many artists that are always around.  And don't get a former newsperson to host the show, you need someone entertaining with humour.  

I only saw Gzowski a few times, but I did see the night that Robin Williams was on.  I couldn't believe how funny this young comedian was that nobody had heard of.  And Peter had the good sense to pull a Johnny Carson and just let Robin do his creative thing. 

 

April 28, 2021 11:36 pm  #23


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

The sound is a bit too low but the video is here.

Robin Williams freestyles on 90 Minutes Live

     Thread Starter
 

April 30, 2021 3:07 pm  #24


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Prod Guy wrote:

Something tells me that you wouldn’t have seen that if the main Fox Network was still owned by News Corp and not Disney.

Newscorp did not sell the Fox broadcast network to Disney.

 

April 30, 2021 3:17 pm  #25


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

And who remembers Jack Paar?  I do.

 

April 30, 2021 3:25 pm  #26


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

Retaw wrote:

Prod Guy wrote:

Something tells me that you wouldn’t have seen that if the main Fox Network was still owned by News Corp and not Disney.

Newscorp did not sell the Fox broadcast network to Disney.

I stand corrected.
 

 

April 30, 2021 3:36 pm  #27


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

John D wrote:

And who remembers Jack Paar?  I do.

Jack Paar fascinates me in a strange way. I really don't have much memory of him, but as a fan of TV history, I certainly know not only who he is but how important he was. What's interests me most, though, is the way he demonstrates how fleeting fame can be. 

When he walked off the Tonight Show over the censoring of a stupid and not very funny joke about a bathroom, it made headlines all over the world. So did his triumphant return a few weeks later. When he left the show to make way for Johnny Carson (leaving an empty set with his dog following him in the final seconds, with no audience present) it was an amazing TV moment. 

Yet just a decade or more later, you could mention his name and people of a certain generation had no idea who he was. He went from being one of the most famous people in history to one of the most obscure. I find that a great lesson in how fame only lasts but a heartbeat for some. And you know what? I think he preferred it that way. 

Meanwhile, Buffalo News TV scribe Alan Pergament gives the CNN late night doc a rave review.

Everything you want to know about 'The Story of Late Night' 

     Thread Starter
 

April 30, 2021 5:59 pm  #28


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

paterson1 wrote:

 It almost an embarrassment that there is no English Canadian late night talk show.  You don't give up just because Gzowski and Benmergui didn't work out.   

They didn't work out while conditions were much more favourable (no streaming)

The cost to produce a daily late night show would be about the same in Canada as the US, but with 10% of the potential audience.

And who would the guests be? You can only have Dan Levy on and music from Arkells so many times. Actually, Dan Levy would probably end up being the host.

We're just too small and intertwined with the world's biggest pop-culture producer.


 
 

April 30, 2021 6:36 pm  #29


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

It's actually kind of fun to speculate who would host such a thing.

Dan Levy
Eugene Levy
Lilly Singh
Steve Patterson
Tom Power
Jann Arden
Mastero Fresh Wes
Jerry Dee
Jonathan Torres
Raina Douris
Brent Butt
Steven Page
Jessi Cruikshank
Henry Burris





RadioAaron wrote:

paterson1 wrote:

 It almost an embarrassment that there is no English Canadian late night talk show.  You don't give up just because Gzowski and Benmergui didn't work out.   

They didn't work out while conditions were much more favourable (no streaming)

The cost to produce a daily late night show would be about the same in Canada as the US, but with 10% of the potential audience.

And who would the guests be? You can only have Dan Levy on and music from Arkells so many times. Actually, Dan Levy would probably end up being the host.

We're just too small and intertwined with the world's biggest pop-culture producer.

 


 
 

April 30, 2021 9:24 pm  #30


Re: Viewer Alert: CNN's New DocuSeries "The History Of Late Night" TV

RadioAaron wrote:

paterson1 wrote:

 It almost an embarrassment that there is no English Canadian late night talk show.  You don't give up just because Gzowski and Benmergui didn't work out.   

They didn't work out while conditions were much more favourable (no streaming)

The cost to produce a daily late night show would be about the same in Canada as the US, but with 10% of the potential audience.

And who would the guests be? You can only have Dan Levy on and music from Arkells so many times. Actually, Dan Levy would probably end up being the host.

We're just too small and intertwined with the world's biggest pop-culture producer.

The cost to produce the show in Canada would be nothing like in the US, not even close.  Here's is the deal you don't have ONLY Canadian celebrities always on the program.  Like I have said many times cancon does not need to be all Canadian all the time.  If you produced the show in Toronto or Vancover, look at all of the celebrities that are always in town making movies, TV in live theatre etc.  Even the big celebs come on talk shows for scale.  And in addition there are a lot of Canadian actors that work here a lot that could come on the show. British talk shows like Graham Norton have a mix of North American and British personalities.  That's what you do here.

Australia and New Zealand have had late night talk shows and quite successful, as has Quebec.  And again they don't have exclusive Australian or NZ celebs.  To throw in the towel without really trying very hard to me is sad, and shows no ambition or creativity.

Here is a list of the salaries for some of the late night hosts in the US from 2017.  A show here would be a fraction of the cost. Maybe only 10%!
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/13/top-4-late-night-tv-hosts-make-millions-of-dollars-a-year.html

Last edited by paterson1 (April 30, 2021 9:26 pm)