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The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 November 2010
Bill Carter is probably the best writer around on US TV. His earlier book on chat shows, 'The Late Shift,' which told the story of the battle to succeed Johnny Carson as the host of the legendary 'Tonight' programme, was an extraordinary achievement, taking what could so easily have been a dry and insular industry tale and turning it into a gripping story of huge egos, fascinating characters and behind the scenes machinations. It was brilliant. Now Carter turns his attention to the more recent shake-up of late night talk shows, which began in 2004 when NBC decided to promise the up and coming Conan O'Brien that he would replace the still-popular Jay Leno as the Tonight show host - much to Leno's surprise - in five years' time. Then, as a disgruntled Leno allowed himself to be sounded out by rival networks, and some NBC executives began to get cold feet, plans were made to keep hold of Leno, too, by moving him into prime time TV. Then, without spoiling any more of the story, chaos ensued.

Carter is again excellent at making a complicated saga of corporate indecision and individual intrigues sound coherent, clear and captivating. I didn't quite like the tendency to stop occasionally to provide us with potted biographies of the key participants, but that's just a personal quibble - I can understand why such details are there. The book as a whole kept me entertained and taught me much about how US TV works (and sometimes doesn't work). Another fantastic effort that deserves some publicity in the UK.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 April 2011
The author is clearly given access to the people at the centre of the storm. This gives a wonderful insight to the workings of the US tv networks.
The "War for late night" is a record of the terrible decisions made by tv execs in their ill judged decision to appoint the heir in waiting (Conan) to replace their king (Leno). If only it was that simple.
All the key players at NBC and beyond, are detailed and how they impacted the disasterous decisions to tell Leno he would be moving in 5 years to make way for Conan to inherit the Tonight Show and the subsequent fall out.
Only in Hollywood, could someone have a show that the affiliates all wanted cancelled (Lenos 10pm) for the network to turn the blame to Conan.

A really good that will have you amazed why people in this industry earn big bucks. A well written, good paced book. Highly recommended.
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