American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night
EXPLORES THE CAREER AND COMPLEXITIES OF AN ENTERTAINMENT ICON
2012 Marks the 50th Anniversary of Carson Taking Over "The Tonight Show" from
Jack Paar and the 20th Anniversary of his Retirement
Features 45 Original Interviews, Including Letterman, Leno, Conan,
Cavett, DeGeneres, Fallon, and Seinfeld
Available on DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution July 17th
Arlington, Va. - June 8, 2012 - PBS Distribution today announced it is releasing American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night on DVD and Blu-ray. Johnny Carson (10/23/1925- 1/23/2005) was seen by more people on more occasions than anyone else in American history. Over the course of 30 years, 4,531 episodes and 23,000 guests, he became a fixture of national life and a part of the zeitgeist. In a 2007 TV Land/Entertainment Weekly poll, Americans voted Carson the greatest icon in the history of television. Two-time Emmy(R)-winning filmmaker Peter Jones explores his life, career, complexities, and contradictions in the two-hour documentary American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Carson taking over "The Tonight Show" from Jack Paar and the 20th anniversary of his retirement. The DVD and Blu-ray will be available beginning July 17, 2012. The program has a run time of 120 minutes. The DVD has an SRP of $24.99 and the Blu-ray has an SRP of $29.99.
Narrated by two-time Oscar(R)-winner Kevin Spacey, the film features 45 original interviews with Carson's friends, family and colleagues, including his second wife, Joanne, Dick Cavett, Doc Severinsen, and other "The Tonight Show" staff. Performers who appeared, or began their careers, on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" are also interviewed, including David Letterman, Jay Leno, Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Drew Carey, Garry Shandling, Steve Martin, Angie Dickinson, Ellen DeGeneres, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Joan Rivers, and David Steinberg. Late night TV hosts Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien also discuss Carson's influence on their careers.
For 15 years Jones wrote an annual letter to Carson requesting his cooperation in the production of a documentary. His appeals went unanswered until 2003, when he received a telephone call from Carson himself: "You write a damn fine letter, Peter, but I don't have anything more to say." Following Carson's death in 2005, Jones directed his letters to Johnny's nephew, Jeff Sotzing, who controls his uncle's archives. Finally, in 2010, Sotzing agreed to cooperate and the Carson Entertainment Group granted unprecedented access to Johnny's personal and professional archives, including family photo albums, home movies, memorabilia, and all existing episodes of "The Tonight Show" from 1962 until his retirement in 1992. His simple reason: "I didn't want people to forget Johnny Carson."
Quite possibly the biggest star that television has ever produced, Carson commanded, at his peak, a nightly audience of 15 million viewers - double the current audience of Leno and Letterman - combined. Rarely giving interviews, Carson chose to remain a very private man whose public persona made him an American superstar. He once revealed, "I can get in front of an audience and be in control. I suppose it's manipulation. Offstage, I'm aloof because I'm not very comfortable." American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night explores this dichotomy and enigma, unearthing clues about Carson's childhood, early days in the business, and personal and professional life.
"Carson has been one of the holy grails for documentary filmmakers, but there's such a protective veil surrounding Johnny that I was beginning to wonder if this would ever happen," says Jones, whose films for PBS include the Peabody Award-winning "Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times" (2009) and "American Masters: Goldwyn" (2001).
"I am thrilled that the 20-year process of Johnny Carson taking his rightful place in American Masters has come to fruition at last!" remarks Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer. "There is no one who touched more entertainment careers than Johnny. All of us are actually in his debt to some degree."
In 2011, American Masters earned its eighth Emmy(R) Award for Outstanding Primetime Nonfiction Series since 1999. Now in its 26th season, the series is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York's public television stations, and operator of NJTV. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local documentaries and other programs to the New York community.
American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night is a co-production of Peter Jones Productions, Inc. and THIRTEEN's American Masters for WNET. Writer/Director/Producer: Peter Jones. Director/Editor/Producer: Mark Catalena. Producer: Brian Tessier. Narrator: Kevin Spacey. Music: Earl Rose. American Masters Series Creator and Executive Producer: Susan Lacy.
American Masters is made possible by the support of the National Endowment for the Arts and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Rolf and Elizabeth Rosenthal, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Jack Rudin, Vital Projects Fund, The Andre and Elizabeth Kertesz Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, and public television viewers.
New York's WNET is America's flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children's programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state's unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
About PBS Distribution
PBS Distribution is the leading media distributor for the public television community, both domestically and internationally. Jointly owned by PBS (Arlington, VA) and WGBH (Boston, MA), PBS Distribution extends the reach of public television programs beyond broadcast while generating revenue for the public television system and our production partners.
PBS Distribution offers a diverse range of programming to our customers, including Ken Burns's films (Prohibition, The National Parks, The War, Baseball, Jazz), documentaries from award-winning series NOVA (The Elegant Universe, Origins), FRONTLINE (God in America, Bush's War, Growing Up Online), and American Experience (Freedom Riders, We Shall Remain), dramas from Masterpiece (Downton Abbey, Jane Eyre, Inspector Lewis), films from independent producers (Easy Yoga for Arthritis, The Buddha, The Story of India, Carrier, Journey into Buddhism, I.O.U.S.A.), and popular children's programming from Dinosaur Train, Super Why!, WordGirl, Cyberchase, Martha Speaks, and Arthur. As a multi-channel distributor, PBS Distribution pursues wholesale/retail sales, consumer and educational sales through PBS- branded catalogs and online shops, and international broadcast and video sales. PBS distribution is also a leader in offering programming through digital platforms including the internet, mobile, and web-connected television.
American Masters: Johnny Carson: King of Late Night
Street Date: July 17, 2012
Run Time: 120 Minutes
SRP: DVD, $24.99 and Blu-ray, $29.99
Format: DVD and Blu-ray
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News Editor June 11, 2012, 7:17 am