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The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 4, 2010


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, November 4, 2010
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (November 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067002208X
  • ASIN: B004Y6MTUU
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,217,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill Carter joined The New York Times as a national media reporter in 1989. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Late Shift, two other books on the television industry, Monday Night Mayhem and Desperate Networks, and has written numerous articles for The New York Times Magazine and other publications. He has been a guest on Nightline, Today, CNN, Charlie Rose, The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, and many other shows.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 81 customer reviews
Conan was the one who ousted Jay Leno.
workthequirk
It is a solid piece of entertainment journalism, and is seems to be very fair and even-handed.
Will Klinger
I like the guy, I think he's hilarious.
Thomas Briggs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

83 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Weyer on November 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When the Lay Leno/Conan O'Brian "Tonight Show" debacle began, everyone knew there was only one person who could tell the true story: Bill Carter. 15 years after his excellent "The Late Shift," Carter finally gives us the follow-up and it's just as wonderfully detailed and excellent as the first book was.

Carter's writing is amazing as he makes you feel like a fly on the wall for the various meetings. He doesn't make judgements but gives us a balanced tale of the various players with full bios on Conan, Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and more. This allows you to get behind the people who are fleshed out wonderfully.

With Conan, Carter shows that his big problem was being too nice a guy and niave to the network politics. It's astonishing to discover that his people never secured a deal to make sure "The Tonight Show" always followed the evening news, which gave NBC some ammuntion. Another telling remark is on how Conan didn't do as much audience interaction as Leno or Letterman and considered himself a writer, not a performer, which cost him down the line. While Conan is shown as a sympathetic figure, he's not given a free ride by the author.

Leno, meanwhile, doesn't come off as some evil schemer but a nice guy in a hard situation. Carter paints the picture that Leno's decisions are due to his thinking in a time warp, still under the impression that "Tonight Show" is the only late night program people care about. As far as Jay's concerned, HE was the one who had "The Tonight Show" taken from him and he sees nothing wrong with taking it back.

While the focus is on those two, David Letterman gets a lot of attention as well.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Will Klinger on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most purely interesting books I've read in a very long time. As someone who is fascinated by the entertainment industry, and television in particular, this is about as good as it gets. Bill Carter is a fantastic writer, and he manages to make the events surrounding the Jay-Conan fiasco accessible and exciting without being overly dramatic. It is a solid piece of entertainment journalism, and is seems to be very fair and even-handed. There does seem to be a slight pro-Conan tone throughout, but this could be because many pages are spent on Conan's background and history. This part really drew me in as a reader and I more readily sympathized with Conan because of all the personal details provided. However, I never got the impression that Carter was telling only one side of the story. All three sides (Conan, Jay, and NBC) are all given fair treatment, and Carter's assessment of the actions of each is masterfully related to one another to provide a fuller picture of what transpired. At different points in the book, I got a strong sense of what it must have felt like for each party.

The writing style and flow of the story is excellent. The author does assume the reader has some basic knowledge of how the television industry works, but still provides concise and helpful explanations when needed. The access given to the author is amazing. Bob Woodward-type access. It seems that literally everyone involved talked to Bill Carter, and quite candidly at that. Granted, all sides surely gave their version of events, but thoughts and feelings are always clearly attributed to the different players.

The section about Conan's early years leading up to landing the Late Show in 1993 was very enlightening.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Cee Moe on March 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
From the moment things went down at NBC in early 2010, I wanted to read this book... and it hadn't even been written yet! I just knew there was so much inside baseball going on between the suits at NBC and Conan and Leno that a book would bring to light and I could sink my teeth into.
The War for Late Night is a very good book. There is plenty of juicy inside baseball and if you come into your book reading experience looking for villains in this story, yeah, there are a few. But the reason why I titled my review "Deja vu all over again", is because some of the characters have changed but it's the same story from the early nineties : NBC totally screwed up. This time around I think their folly was trying to have their cake and eat it too. The whole thing started because they didn't want to lose Conan to another network. Then there was the issue of what to do with Jay because you don't want to lose him to another network, either. This book teaches that in life, as in business, tough decisions must be made. It would have been rough for NBC if they lost Conan to another network, but in the end they did anyway, just with more egg on their face. I came away from this book realizing that when you make a decision, you must wait for the fallout, because there will always be a fallout. To try to avoid that is like avoiding the inevitable. You can delay the inevitable, but it will always find its way to you. That's one of those rules of life and the smarty pants executives at NBC tried to best it. That's why this book is perfect for anyone who is sick and tired of those smarty pants media elites and want to read a detailed, compelling, utterly readable book about said media elites being served a humongous, humiliating slice of humble pie.
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