A few years ago, the absurdity of late night was overwhelming to me. As someone of my generation, I think of TV as a series of niche markets. The Adult Swims of the world will never compete with ABC or even HBO, but they were never intended to. ABC’s wide market appeal and HBO’s dark humor/drama/nudity are apples to oranges over the small 15-min comedy of Adult Swim. Academically, I know that Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson, among others, have a distinct cultural historical value, but not in my lifetime. However, Bill Carter’s book brings together a compelling version of the late night war that happened in the last few years giving a blow by blow of the bitter and aggressive stance of the victimized Conan and Leno’s 10 pm show flopped. It shows the awkward and discomfort of Leno as he tries, but fails to avoid the disaster of the Letterman/Leno debacle that was the Tonight Show handover. The book walks through all the backroom deals and gives history to all the players; Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, and Conan O’Brien. An Amazing Read.
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