The Late Shift

Overview

Based on the non-fiction best-seller, The Late Shift is an irreverent, behind-the-scenes look at the conflict over who would succeed Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno or David Letterman. Beginning with Carson's retirement, the made-for-cable film follows the backstage manueverings of both camps. When NBC chooses, Letterman refuses to lose quietly. Hosting The Tonight Show has been his life-long dream, and he is willing to do whatever it takes, even hiring an agent, to get what he wants. Indeed, ...
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Overview

Based on the non-fiction best-seller, The Late Shift is an irreverent, behind-the-scenes look at the conflict over who would succeed Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno or David Letterman. Beginning with Carson's retirement, the made-for-cable film follows the backstage manueverings of both camps. When NBC chooses, Letterman refuses to lose quietly. Hosting The Tonight Show has been his life-long dream, and he is willing to do whatever it takes, even hiring an agent, to get what he wants. Indeed, Letterman soon finds himself working with ultra-powerful Hollywood agent Mike Ovitz and receiving huge offers from competing networks. Meanwhile, NBC has more trouble with the Leno Tonight Show than expected, thanks to Leno's manager Helen Kushnick Kathy Bates. Kushnick's acerbic, foul-mouthed manner and increasingly petty behavior infuriates the higher-ups at NBC -- so much so that some suggest they give the show to Letterman after all. A series of intense negotiations follows, under the shadow of ludicrously frenzied media attention. While the presentation of both Leno and Letterman played by unknowns Daniel Roebuck and John Michael Higgins, respectively is fairly sympathetic, the film is far-less charitable to Kushnick and NBC executives.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Brian J. Dillard
Only one thing elevates this behind-the-scenes drama above the ranks of other made-for-TV movies, and that's the performance of Kathy Bates as Jay Leno's motormouthed agent. Swearing like a truck driver, walking all over people, and generally playing against type, Bates is a hoot. Too bad the same can't be said for Daniel Roebuck and John Michael Higgins, who were presumably cast more for their vague resemblance to, respectively, Leno and David Letterman than for their ability to illuminate the inner lives of the warring late-night contenders. Sandra Bernhard pops up all too briefly as herself to recreate one of her legendary Letterman appearances, while character actors Bob Balaban, Treat Williams, and Ed Begley, Jr. all beef up the supporting cast. It says a lot about this workmanlike effort, though, that amongst all the clashing, titanic egos, the most interesting character isn't Letterman, Leno or Johnny Carson, but Bates' indelible Helen Kushnick.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/23/2012
  • UPC: 883316516591
  • Original Release: 1996
  • Rating:

  • Source: Hbo Archives
  • Time: 1:42:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 18,211

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kathy Bates Helen Kushnick
John Michael Higgins David Letterman
Daniel Roebuck Jay Leno
Bob Balaban Warren Littlefield
Ed Begley Jr. Rod Perth
Reni Santoni John Agoglia
Sandra Bernhard Herself
John Getz Brandon Tartikoff
Steven Gilborn Peter Lassally
Peter Jurasik Howard Stringer
John Kapelos Robert Morton
Rich Little Johnny Carson
Lawrence Pressman Bob Wright
Treat Williams Mike Ovitz
Technical Credits
Betty Thomas Director
Mac Ahlberg Cinematographer
George Armitage Screenwriter
Linda Berger Art Director
Don Carmody Producer
Shari Feldman Costumes/Costume Designer
Nancy Foy Casting
Daniel Goldberg Producer
Joe Medjuck Producer
Ivan Reitman Executive Producer
Garreth Stover Production Designer
Peter Teschner Editor
Monty Westmore Makeup
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