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Pioneers of Television 1 & 2 and Pioneers of Primetime
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American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night Blu-ray
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Item No.: JCA601B

Quite possibly the biggest star that television has ever produced, Johnny Carson was seen by more people on more occasions than anyone else in American history. Over the course of his 30-year run on The Tonight Show, Carson interviewed 23,000 guests in 4,531 episodes. Watch as the life and career of one of the most beloved yet enigmatic icons in American entertainment history is explored.
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PBSAmerican Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night Blu-ray

(based on 2 reviews)

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Johnny Carson

By Paul

from Michigan

Verified Reviewer

Comments about PBS American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night Blu-ray:

I learned many things about Johnny Carson from this DVD. Carson remains the undisputed master. Naghty but never dirty, political but apolitical, always funny. He will never be equalled.

(5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)


Johnny Carson: the man, the star

By Steve2020

from San Jose

Verified Reviewer

Comments about PBS American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night Blu-ray:

This is the best Carson retrospective I've seen. It succeeds in telling the story of this very private man, while also giving Tonight Show fans a big dose of entertainment, the way only Johnny Carson could do it.

Johnny Carson was one of the biggest tv stars of all-time, certainly of his time- coming into millions of homes nightly to entertain a couple generations of late night viewers for 30 years. As host of the Tonight Show, he set the bar and defined the genre for everyone to come after him.

Offstage he was an intensely private man, apparently uncomfortable at Hollywood (or NYC) parties and industry events. He gave everything during his daily taping of the Tonight Show, then-for majority of the show's run- he simply left and went home. As it's said today: Johnny 'left everything on the field' (or that stage in beautiful downtown Burbank:).

The producers use plenty of clips from the Tonight Show archives. Johnny negotiated ownership of the master tapes of every show and they're stored -appropriately- in an underground vault in the midwest.

They also use bio info, parts of the only non-Tonight Show tv special he did-visiting his family and Nebraska hometown, bits from the very few print interviews he did over the years and- where much behind the scenes insight comes from- plenty of interview interviw comments from the Tonight Show team, guests and personal friends ...All to tell the story that Johnny was too uncomfortable to tell (or show) himself: the story of the man and the star.

Other Tonight Show retrospectives are usually simple clips collections...such as the comedy sketches. As a Carson fan, I've enjoyed these but always felt like they were only a small part of the Tonight Show experience. Because they were.

Johnny doing The Monologue (where he turned his own reaction to a joke falling flat into an art from), Johnny behind the desk letting his guests shine ...or helping them to shine- that's what made The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson so special, the gold standard of late night tv talk shows.

This program's liberal use of Tonight Show guest interviews interpersed with comments from other late night hosts (Dick Cavett, David Letterman, Jay Leno), top comedians whose careers hit the bigtime on Johnny's stage and other guests (some legendary) who appeared on the Tonight Show -paint a much fuller picture of Johnny's special genius as an entertainer.

When i finished watching this program on PBS I felt like I'd seen an all-star episode (or two) of The Tonight Show...and also knew a lot more about the magic of Johnny the star and the guy who became that star when he walked onstage at 5:30pm for the daily Tonight Show taping.

As one of the network guys says at the end of this wonderful American Masters episode, 'when Johnny announced his retirement, there was this big discussion about who would take over the Tonight Show. The real answer is 'nobody.' The Tonight Show was Johnny Carson. Nobody could follow him."

Johnny's friend David Letterman- more than anyone, the guy who changed/refreshed late night tv for the next generation- agrees and comments (several times) about this American original ...and how he owes everything to Johnny.

Narrated by Kevin Spacey.

So well done, I'm buying the DVD...even though it's currently available online.

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