Mr. Carter's previous work "The Late Shift" about the turmoil which ensued in finding a replacement for Johnny Carson was an excellent piece of reporting. "The War for Late Night" could be considered a sequel to the 1994 nonfiction book and just as good as its predecessor. However, it isn't necessary to read "The Late Shift" to understand what occurs in "The War for Late Night." The chaos which unfolded was more than simply a power struggle between Mr. Leno and Mr. O'Brien. There were also the decisions or demands made by the station affiliates, show producers, NBC executives and the parent company General Electric that contributed greatly to the mess. The author does a tremendous job describing what happened. Unlike in "The Late Shift" where Jay Leno manager, Helen Kushnick, came across as a stupendous a-hole, nobody in "The War for Late Night" fits that bill... well actually... if Mr. O'Brien's tv producer Gavin Polone and Helen Kushnick ever had a baby, the child would likely have the birthmark 666 on its forehead. But besides Mr. Polone's personality, the author's fair-minded depiction of the people involved is one reason the book is so appealing. Mr. Carter's work shows that even the best of intentions can still devolve into hurt feelings and people getting the royal shaft.
It's difficult to take anything at face value in politics. business or entertainment. BS is a major staple of these professions. All too often, the players involved portray to the public that such dramas are minor disagreements, while behind the scenes, the proverbial poop is hitting a warehouse of fans. The executives' primary responsibility is to make a profit. The producers' and entertainers' objective is to make entertaining and popular shows. The joining of these two parties is always ripe for conflict. Mr. Leno, Mr. Letterman, and anyone a party to the 1992 "Tonight Show" debacle certainly had no desire to have a repeat performance in 2010. And yet, they did. Mr. Carter takes time to give brief biographies of the main characters such as Conan O'Brien, Jay Leno, CEO Jeff Zucker, David Letterman and other power brokers as well as rising talents Jon Stewart, Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert.
Mr. Carter explains how the ground beneath late-night entertainment has dramatically shifted since the days when either Johnny Carson was king or when Leno and Letterman were the only competitors on tv. I don't watch late-night television with the exception of a Internet clip here or there. Yet, the author's very fair, entertaining, and highly informative book kept me glued to my seat. The book's a keeper.
- Paperback: 417 pages
- Publisher: Plume (27 September 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0452297494
- ISBN-13: 978-0452297494
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 363 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)