Monday, July 23, 2012

Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

In a salt mine under Hutchinson, Kansas lie the copies of over 4,500 episodes of The Tonight Show hosted by Johnny Carson, placed there at the behest of the iconic television emcee. Over a career spanning 30 years, Carson, alongside his sidekick Ed McMahon, became an endeared staple to Americans, netting audiences of over 15 million viewers a night at his peak, almost double what today's late night guys rake in today. "Johnny Carson: King of Late Night" is a thorough and immensely engrossing dissection of the entertainer's life and career, who was known as a relae tively shy person until he got in front of camera and transformed into probably the most charismatically enduring  performer television has ever known. His friends and family members speak on his life, which was not untouched by controversy, while modern comics whom he gave their big break to, as well as those who have tried to take up his mantle, speak on his influence. The only marring detail here is Kevin Spacey's narration, which would be irrelevant, except for the fact that his elocution draws so much attention off the material and to himself. Carson's career on television was one that provided joy and relief to millions every night and whose personal life may not have been so  simple, charming and easy going. "King of Late Night" does an excellent job depicting an unsimplified view of an icon.