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The Late Shift (1996)

A dramatization of the rivalry between David Letterman and Jay Leno to over which of them would succeed Johnny Carson as the host of "The Tonight Show".

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Writers:

(book), (teleplay) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Rod Perth
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Howard Stringer
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John Agoglia
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Bob Wright
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Sandra Bernhard
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Alan Levine
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Rick Ludwin
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Storyline

HBO movie about the behind-the-scenes network politics responsible for the changes in late-night talk-show hosts, after the retirement of Johnny Carson from the Tonight Show on NBC. Jay Leno and David Letterman were both vying for the position, but Leno's tough manager Helen Kushnick got him the spot. In the wake of her 'stepping on the toes' of powerful network executives and 'playing hardball' tactics with guest bookings, she found herself being pushed out of her job as Tonight Show Executive Producer and Jay's manager. Letterman, devastated by his being passed over, brought in superagent Mike Ovitz to negotiate on his behalf, resulting in his move to CBS. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Two heads fighting for the late night crown - One head's gotta roll. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

24 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Changement de décors  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both David Letterman and Jay Leno were vocal in their disapproval of the film, with Letterman calling it "the single biggest waste of film since my wedding photos." In an interview he said his self-loathing tendencies were overplayed, in particular a scene where he throws baseballs at an archery target, and he also took issue with the orange/brown hair color given to the actor who played him, John Michael Higgins. See more »

Goofs

On several cell phone calls, there is an audible dial tone when one caller hangs up on the other. Cell phones do not have audible dial tones. See more »

Quotes

David Letterman: [outside CBS Studios right before the press conference] Gentlemen, we are just going from one bizarre circumstance to the next.
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Connections

Spoofed in Late Show with David Letterman: Episode #17.80 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

There's No Business Like Show Business
Performed by Ethel Merman
Written by Irving Berlin
Irving Berlin Music Company
Courtesy RCA Victor Red Seal Division of BMG Classics
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User Reviews

 
Two men, one show, two networks
20 June 2005 | by (Vancouver) – See all my reviews

The Late Shift is a great book, I read the book several years ago, and I was transfixed at the cutthroat debauchery that went on when Johnny Carson retired and Jay Leno and Johnny Carson tried to grab his spot. When the movie came out, I snagged a VHS copy of the movie, and having reread the book recently, it's hard to say which I enjoy more, because they're quite equal in the amount of information conveyed. The two lead actors, John Michael Higgins, and Daniel Roebuck, two actors I never heard of before, and haven't heard of since, play Leno and Letterman convincingly, despite Letterman's dismissal of his portrayal as being poor. They play the parts quite well, despite a lot of people looking for an imitation of the two. I wasn't as interested in that. The story is what counts. And that brings me to Kathy Bates. Kathy Bates, playing Helen Kushnick, IS this movie. She plays this evil bitch of a character so menacingly you realize how on earth can this woman control herself, much less a national TV show. Yikes! There should be a sequel!!


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