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The Late Shift
The Late Shift
Actors: John Michael Higgins, Daniel Roebuck, Kathy Bates, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr.
Director: Betty Thomas
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
R     2005     1hr 35min

When two heads are fighting for the late-night crown, one head has to roll. Based on the true story of the battle between Letterman and Leno for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show hot seat!


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Movie Details

Actors: John Michael Higgins, Daniel Roebuck, Kathy Bates, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr.
Director: Betty Thomas
Creators: Mac Ahlberg, Daniel Goldberg, Don Carmody, Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck, Bill Carter, George Armitage
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Ivan Reitman, Drama, All Made-for-TV Movies
Studio: Hbo Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 08/30/2005
Original Release Date: 02/24/1996
Theatrical Release Date: 02/24/1996
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Letterman Deserved the Tonight Show
StevenJM | Pittsburgh, PA | 11/04/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a terrific video with Kathy Bates absolutely hateful as Leno's manager. The actors portraying Leno and Letterman are good but try too hard to mimic rather than portray each. The video is great at showing the behind the scenes maneuvering that allowed Leno to steal The Tonight Show from David Letterman. That may be harsh but I don't think there is any other way to describe what happened. The rightful heir to Carson was Letterman. Leno was (and still is) a poor pretender to the throne. That being said, the intrigue and lies used to move the transfer of the Tonight Show to Leno is great. CBS's decision to enter the late night market and lure Letterman is played out realistically. It's interesting to note that if Letterman got the Tonight Show, CBS was ready to go after Leno.The video is a good companion to the book. The book provides much more detail and inside information but the video hits the highlights. If interested, you may want to read the book before viewing the video.Look forward to seeing this on DVD hopefully with some extras."
Wonderful behind-the-scenes account!
Grahame R. Davis | 04/09/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a fascinating movie. It attempts to accurately depict the battle over the coveted position which was opening up after Johnny Carson announced his retirement from the Tonight Show. The actors all give good performances, but the true standout is Kathy Bates. She is absolutely one of the best actresses fo her generation, and gives a brilliant performance as Jay Leno's wild manager Helen Kushnick. She transforms this movie from a really good one to a great one. HBO has done it again with The Late Shift."
Pleasent surprise for a Telemovie...
M. FISHER | DURAL, NSW Australia | 07/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I had this movie originally on a rare LaserDisc, & was delighted when it appeared as a DVD release - in it's original aspect ratio & 16x9 enhanced to boot! The role of David Letterman is surprisingly accurate and after a while you forget this isn't the REAL Letterman. If you didn't know the story of how Letterman & Leno came to be where they are now in their career, it's a facinating incite into the harsh workings of corporate television. Worth the purchase price as you'll revisit this story often..."
When The Name Of 'The Tonight Show' Actually Meant Something
Eric Ericson | Venice, Florida USA | 01/09/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Alot of twenty-somethings today don't remember the late-night chaos the former king of late night, the late great Johnny Carson, made when he left The Tonight Show after 30 years it's host in mid-1992. There was only two guys even considered for the chair, Jay Leno, a former stand-up comedian who recently took up sub-hosting it when Carson needed a weekly break, and David Letterman, the sarcastic follow-up host who over 10 years held NBC's 12:30 late night anchor. What this film dramatises is all the back-stage fighting between the three parties, including the suits of GE/NBC at the time. So many great things are going on in this film, including Leno's foul-mouthed rude female manager (Kathy Bates in one of her best performances), former teenage character actor (River's Edge Daniel Roebuck as Leno with prosthetic believable chin), and newcomer at the time John Michael Higgins, who is amazing as Letterman, down to a tee of the host's former 44 year old attitude and appearance at the time. Even 70's impressionist Rich Little as Carson (an impersonation he did for years, played realistically this time) is enjoyable to watch. This is one made-for-cable film that truly deserved a theatrical run, no matter what the real life Letterman thought, he hated the film but then again, he never liked himself on screen anyway.

Though made in 1996 for cable, this film is Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) with a 2.0 Stereo channel (but sorry, bare-boned with no extras), but what really gets to you is how even in the 90's what big decisions were made to forever change television history by so few people involved. If you are a fan of either late-night host currently, or waiting to see Conan take the 11:30 reins (not me), this is one film you cannot miss. One of HBO's best original films ever. Ever.
(Redsabbath Rating:9.0/10)"