‘American Masters’ profiles television icon Johnny Carson on Monday night
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Johnny Carson was seen by more people on more occassions 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.
American Masters explores the life, career, complexities and contradictions in the two-hour documentary “Johnny Carson: King of Late Night” on Monday, May 14 at 9/8 pm CT on KET and Sunday, May 20 at 9/8 pm CT on KET2.
Narrated by actor 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 staff of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
Many performers who appeared or began their careers on The Tonight Show 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, Conan O’Brien, Joan Rivers, and David Steinberg.
One of the biggest stars that television has ever produced, Carson, who died in 2005, commanded at his peak a nightly audience of 16 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.
Carson 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.”