Tuesday, November 29, 2016
What a pleasure it is to have the late night master Johnny Carson on the air again. On January 1, 2016, the Antenna TV network started airing his shows. Monday through Friday the shows are 60 minutes, made between 1980 and 1992. On Saturday and Sunday, the shows are 90 minutes, aired from 1972 to 1980. It has been amazing to revisit these shows from Johnny. It makes one realize how good he was at his craft. He was a top notch stand up comedian of course, but he also shined as an interviewer and as a comic actor with his Mighty Carson Art Players segments. We have been able to see segments featuring his characters such as Carnac, Art Fern, Floyd R. Turbo and Aunt Blabby. At Johnny's side is the number one second banana, Ed McMahon. Doc and the band sound fantastic as usual. We have seen several episodes with David Letterman. For years, we figured that Letterman was the heir apparent to Carson. Unfortunately Jay Leno filled Carson's spot in 1992 when Johnny stepped down. But, Dave turned out ok, with a 33 year career in late night.
It has been a special treat to see some of the all time legends of show biz on the air again. Johnny's guest list read like a who's who of Hollywood with guests like George Burns, Milton Berle, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Jack Benny, Rodney Dangerfield and many more.
I only have one complaint with these Carson episodes on Antenna TV. There have been very few musical guests and few performances by Doc and the band. People are speculating that the reason behind this is costs that have to do with music licensing. The royalties need to be paid through music agencies like BMI and ASACAP when these shows are re-aired. We have seen more musical performances in the second half of the year than in the first half, so hopefully that is a good sign. Antenna TV is probably doing well ratings-wise with the show, which would expand the budget for airing musical acts.
Antenna TV is tight-lipped regarding ratings numbers, but I have a hunch that they are pleased with the response to the show. Folks of all generations can experience the magic of Carson.
Carson fans will want to check out this Facebook fan page, dedicated to Johnny. At the beginning of 2016, it had 100 members. Now it has over 2700. No doubt the Antenna TV airings have increased the interest in the late night icon.