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Johnny Carson Miniseries In The Works At NBC

There have been some late night greats, but none greater than Johnny Carson, who ran The Tonight Show on NBC for thirty years, from 1962-1992. The man made an impact on nearly every late night host that has ever graced network television, especially David Letterman, who often speaks fondly of the man. Now, NBC is putting together a miniseries based on the life and times of the prolific late night talk show host.

The new project is based on a book that has been in the works for at least half a dozen years. Back in 2002, writer Bill Zehme wrote a lengthy article on Carson for the magazine Esquire. This led to a biography project called Carson the Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait, which is set to be published sometime in the future. Zehme isn’t waiting for the book release to get deals going. Back in November of last year, producers John McLaughlin and Tom Thayer announced that they were adapting the book into a movie about the beloved late night host. Now, it looks as if NBC might beat that team to the punchline with its own Carson miniseries.

Onscreen, Carson had an unmatched charisma and comedic sensibility. He had a knack for interviewing well and getting interesting stories out of those he interviewed all while making them seem at ease. He was smooth and a little wacky, but behind-the-scenes his life wasn’t always so easy. A press release from NBC says that the project will follow Carson’s Tonight Show run, as well as his life off-camera. Additionally, the network is stating the miniseries will include segments explaining his early life growing up in Nebraska. I’m not sure if that’s where the project will start off or whether flashbacks will be employed, but either way, I’m interested.

Since NBC is putting together the currently untitled project, I’m guessing if it moves forward at the network, it’s likely to gloss over any disagreements the late night host may have had with his parent network across thirty years. Still, if the drama can find the right actor, a look into Carson’s life could make for compelling drama with plenty of comedy sprinkled in.

The NBC project is being executive produced by Zehme, along with John Davies. The latter was nominated for an Emmy for putting together the NBC special A Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman. The miniseries seems to have a pretty good team behind it, and we’ll let you know if it moves forward at NBC.

In the meantime, “heeeere’s Johnny.”

Jessica Rawden

Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.