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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
45
The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on March 21, 2017
I had a contract to write for Jay, courtesy of Helen Kushnick, and this book is an inside look at what late night is really like. Jay continues to be a likable personality, vs. Letterman (my brother-in-law appeared on Letterman, and said he was the coldest individual he ever met). Both have talent, but both approached being a human being differently.
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on March 5, 2017
Fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how Dave lost the "Tonight Show," but gained so much more by being himself and not another Johnny Carson. Let's face it, as accomplished a joke-teller as Leno is, he stole most of his show from Letterman---running out of the studio to do a recorded bit, having the band play music for a comedy bit and "Stupid Headlines." It may be more than 20 years old, but it shows how network executives care about ratings over innovation.
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on October 7, 2017
Excellent book about a very interesting time in television history. If you are interested in behind the scenes information about high-level network deals, this book will certainly hold your interest. I also purchased Carter's book about the Conan/Leno fiasco "The War For Late Night" and am greatly looking forward to reading it. Carter seems genuinely interested in the subject and somehow manages to get the inside scoop. Can't recommend it highly enough.
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on November 19, 2010
Bill Carter's THE LATE SHIFT chronicles the flawed transition of Jay Leno in succeeding Johnny Carson as host of "The Tonight Show" in 1992. The villian that drives the narrative in the first half of the book is Leno's out of control manager Helen Kushnick. She ruthlessly wins the day for Leno in getting him Carson's chair, but then she keeps on pushing and manipulating to the point that both NBC and Leno let her go. The second half of the book is driven by Letterman's decision to stay at NBC or jump ship to CBS. Described as talented as least a hundred times by Carter, Letterman's insecurities make the final decision totally unpredictable. Described as nice as least two hundred times by Carter, Leno has a simplicity that works for NBC's brass. He'll go anywhere, do anything with the affliates to promote himself and the show. The level of detail of the in-fighting at NBC indicates that the losers (those who supported Letterman) were quite willing to talk to Carter, and Carter takes full advantage of it to show the incompentence of the NBC suits every step along the way.
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on October 24, 2017
Incredibly well written and absorbing, I could not put it down.
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on March 24, 2015
If you have any interest in the behind the scenes details of the David Letterman-Jay Leno drama over the takeover of The Tonight Show, this book is for you. Well written with all the juicy details! Quite the page turner.
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on December 26, 2014
It's a great look back at when late night television was still a critical aspect for networks... before things got fragmented. I highly suggest reading this and immediately following up with Carter's "The War for Late Night".
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on August 14, 2016
Fantastic behind the scenes look at how NBC mismanaged its talent and let Letterman get away.
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on May 16, 2012
I absolutely loved this book. I finished it in under a week, because it was so hard to put down.

Recommended for fans of the shows, especially with an interest in the television industry. Even though it is quite an old story now, it's still very interesting. The author does a great job of telling the story from both sides of the fence, with a complex cast of characters.
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on May 22, 2013
This is a great nonfiction read. It keeps you interested throughout, and provides really gripping character analysis: You get the good, the bad, and the ugly from each comic, and great insights into the entertainment world. I learned a lot too from this book!
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