I had planned on getting this post out Friday. But, as some of you may have noticed, there were some issues with the site in the morning and I spent a fair chunk of time trying to get it working again. That also allowed me to finish another long article to throw in here.
So, here they are: some showbiz links.
First, one of two reprints that were circulating recently. It is a really amazing profile of Johnny Carson from 1977. It took me about four days to get through, reading at school pick-ups and in spare moments here-and-there. But it is worth the time.
* Johnny was an icon to me, someone I got to see on Friday nights, when I was allowed to stay up late, or over the holidays at relatives’ homes. He was this grand, benevolent embodiment of the pulse of the nation. I didn’t realize he was quietly outspoken, if that’s possible, in a rather liberal way. I’m surprised that my grandparents watched him every night.
* I enjoy the speculation throughout the profile on how long he would continue to work. No one, in 1977, thought he would hang around until 1992.
* I couldn’t help but think about how late night TV has changed. Back then, there was, really, only Carson. Letterman came along five years later as an irreverent nightcap for those who could power through until 12:30. Then, there was the great disruption of the late night landscape in the late 80s, when Joan Rivers and then Arsenio Hall challenged Carson from Fox. Upon Carson’s retirement, all hell broke loose. Today, we have Fallon taking over the just-retired Leno, Letterman, and Kimmel at 11:30. Conan is still out there somewhere. Ferguson and Myers hold down the very late night shifts. Oh, and there’s Stewart and Colbert doing their thing, arguably better than anyone else. We’ve come a long way from the single late night voice to rule them all.
Anyway, it’s a fantastic read if you remember the glory days of the “Tonight Show” or are just a fan of pop culture in general.
Q: On the show, one of the things you control most strictly is the expression of your own opinions. Why do you keep them a secret from the viewers?
Carson: I hate to be pinned down. Take the case of Larry Flynt, for example. [Flynt, the publisher of the sex magazine Hustler, had recently been convicted on obscenity charges.] Now, I think Hustler is tawdry, but I also think that if the First Amendment means what it says, then it protects Flynt as much as anyone else, and that includes the American Nazi movement. As far as I’m concerned, people should be allowed to read and see whatever they like, provided it doesn’t injure others. If they want to read pornography until it comes out of their ears, then let them. But if I go on the “Tonight Show” and defend Hustler, the viewers are going to tag me as that guy who’s into pornography. And that’s going to hurt me as an entertainer, which is what I am.
Fifteen Years Of The Salto Mortale
Speaking of late night forays. here is a recycled profile of Chevy Chase from 2002. The fall of Chevy is one of the more amazing things in Hollywood in my life. He was at the pinnacle of American comedy and, really, disappeared not because he was a recluse or had some religious awakening or massive drug problem, but rather because he, apparently, was a titanic asshole who made a bunch of bad choices in projects and had no goodwill with which to rescue himself.
Anyway, given his semi-resurgence over the first four seasons of “Community,” I found the piece’s closing line especially interesting.
’’You know, everybody has disasters,” says Steve Martin, a friend from ”’Three Amigos.” ”And then you have a hit and then the disasters don’t matter. So, if you think about it, everybody is just one hit away from being exactly where they were. Chevy is one hit away. It will happen. He’ll get that hit. And he’ll be back.”
This oral history of Ghostbusters was perfectly timed, coming out right after the recent death of Harold Ramis.
Originally I was writing it for me, Eddie Murphy, and John Belushi, and I was about a third of the way through. On a beautiful March day, I was writing a line for John when the phone rang and it was Bernie [Brillstein]. He told me that John had died in the Chateau Marmont. I finished the script with Bill Murray in mind.
He was writing for Eddie, too? Man…
And, finally, Alec Baldwin sums up the entertainment industry in so many ways. Based on his performances over the years, he seems like a fun guy to hang out with. But he also appears thin-skinned and prone to dramatic outbursts. In other words, he’s a phenomenal actor because he makes us believe he is worthy of respect and admiration when he’s really just as screwed up as the rest of us.
In this “As Told To” piece, he claims he’s leaving the public world to regain control of his life and image. He says that he still wants to work but will give up taking to the press, going on “Letterman,” and “SNL.” We’ll see about that. But it reads as a thoroughly enjoyable train wreck of a piece, whether you like Baldwin or not.