American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

Thursday, May 3, 2012
7:00 pm PT
Los Angeles

In Person

Peter Jones, Writer/Director/Producer
David Steinberg



He was seen by more people than anyone else in American history—a fixture of our national life. In exploring the career and life of arguably the biggest star television ever produced, American Masters had the estate’s first-time cooperation and access to Johnny Carson’s greatest legacy: all existing episodes of The Tonight Show from 1962–1992. Filmmaker Peter Jones deftly examines the complexities and contradictions of the man who defined late night television and influenced everyone who followed. Original interviews with friends, colleagues, and performers who appeared on, began their careers on, or were influenced by The Tonight Show—including Conan O'Brien, Ray Romano, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Angie Dickinson, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Dick Cavett, David Steinberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Garry Shandling, Steve Martin, Arsenio Hall, Joan Rivers, and Jimmy Fallon—offer texture and context. 2012 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Carson’s taking over The Tonight Show, as well as the twentieth anniversary of his retirement. American Masters Johnny Carson: King of Late Night premieres nationally Monday, May 14 at 9:00 pm on PBS (check local listings).

 

 
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Expert Commentary

Was Johnny Carson the Ultimate Don Draper?

Both Johnny Carson and the fictional Don Draper are alienated from their colleagues, family, and, most notably, from themselves.

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