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The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy Hardcover – November 4, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
**** SPOILER ALERT ****
In a nutshell, Conan O'Brien, host of NBC's Late Night following Leno's the Tonight Show, was the hottest commodity on late night television during the early ought's, especially among the crucial younger adult viewing segment most prized by advertisers - he was being courted by rival networks ABC and Fox and was being offered roughly 7x his $3 million salary if he left NBC and took his show to another network. Conan told NBC CEO Jeff Zucker he would only re-sign with NBC if he had a contract to take over the Tonight Show from Leno within a relatively finite period of time; Conan revered Johnny Carson and was infatuated with the Tonight Show.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So much better than the movie. It is crazy intriguing and just all of the backstabbing and manipulation. It is hard to believe that these characters are actual people. Read morePublished 1 month ago by AzRockDad
Great book. Really gets behind the scenes. A great study for lovers of business, lovers of television and lovers of comedy.Published 1 month ago by J. Kelly
This is the second book I've read by Carter, and I will look for more. This is a thorough and evenhanded telling of the Leno/Conan showdown. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Mary Rowe
The long and sustained incompetence of NBC late night execs is breathtaking. Five drunken raccoons smoking crack could have done a better job.Published 13 months ago by A.E. Parvo
Thorough reporting, but too detailed at times. Lots of repetitive information. Also get the sense that writer took precautions to make sure he didn't upset anyone who spoke to him... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Greg C.
I read this as part of Bill Carter's trilogy of books on the TV industry: The Late Shift, Desperate Networks, and The War For Late Night. Read morePublished 14 months ago by BozemanPhil
Compelling narrative. True account from those that lived it. Hard to put down. Won't look at late night TV the same.Published 14 months ago by PepsiRoad