The War for Late Night - Bill Carter

The War for Late Night

By Bill Carter

  • Release Date: 2010-11-04
  • Genre: TV
Score: 4.5
From 257 Ratings


Bill Carter, executive producer of CNN’s docuseries The Story of Late Night and host of the Behind the Desk: Story of Late Night podcast, details the chaotic transition of The Tonight Show from host Jay Leno to Conan O’Brien—and back again.

In 2010, NBC’s CEO Jeff Zucker, had it all worked out when he moved Jay Leno from behind the desk at The Tonight Show, and handed the reins over to Conan O'Brien. But his decision was a spectacular failure. Ratings plummeted, affiliates were enraged—and when Zucker tried to put everything back the way it was, that plan backfired as well.

No one is more uniquely suited to document the story of a late-night travesty than veteran media reporter and bestselling author, Bill Carter. In candid detail, he charts the vortex that sucked in not just Leno and O'Brien—but also Letterman, Stewart, Fallon, Kimmel, and Ferguson—as frantic agents and network executives tried to manage a tectonic shift in television’s most beloved institution.


  • Interesting

    By SteveHodges
    An interesting view into show business at its worst, and a man who wanted nothing more then what a company promised him.. Then took away.
  • Reaches its target audience, albeit a small audience

    By Kevinwilson16
    This is a real "inside baseball" type of book about late night TV. It gives real voice to the people involved, whether they're the hosts or the executives. If you were loyal to one particular host going in, you will still back your guy; you just won't have as much bile for the other party as you did before. It's not really a book you pick up just so you have something different to read. The target reader for this book is seeking specific information on late night TV, and this book fills its lanes quite well.
  • Answers Most Questions

    By passkey
    I do not agree with Mr. Seinfeld. Conan did the right thing. Zucker was wrong. Leno is past his prime (whatever that was). I hope Letterman gives Conan The Late Show and then Conan can take his rightful place as the king of late night But what do I know, I'm just a viewer. Nobody ever asked me.
  • The Late Late Night

    By TowleTompkins
    The battle for late night television supremacy may be a trivial matter to some, but Bill Carter does a masterful job of turning the battle among Leno, O'Brien, and NBC into a compelling read. For fans of late-night comedy, the final chapter is thought-provoking because it crystalizes how ultimately futile all the jockeying for power, money, ego, and career will seem ten years from now. Quite an entertaining read.
  • It's all business. No hard feelings ok?

    By modernrockstar
    Loved every page! The book was extremely entertaining and informative. It goes into great detail of how the whole Leno Conan Late Night show imploded. There are lots of inside information, some I found shocking, like Zucker exploding on the phone over Conan's agent. During the chapters of when Jay was placed back at 11:30 and Conan ousted, my fist were clenched and ready to punch every face at NBC for having no class. In the end, even though what Conan did was right, the main message of the book is that the Tonight Show had lost all meaning and that it's just a business. I still find it hard to believe someone as passionate about it like Conan could ever separate business from his love of the show.
  • Fair and Entertaining

    By davegrindhouse
    A great book that I felt was fair to everyone involved. I'm far from a Leno fan, but after reading this I view him in a better light.
  • I like

    By ryanjla
    Finally finished. Good book about this generations late night war.
  • LOVED IT!!!

    By Carlos Oviedo
    I loved this book. It was written awesome and I loved all the insight and behind the scenes dealings. I was fascinated with the entire late night debacle...this book brings my fascination full circle...must read!!
  • Good, not great

    By TGskull13
    A well written and researched story. A bit biased towards Conan's side of the story (and I'm a huge Conan fan), but overall it presents a good and fair account of what took place. My only issue with the book is that it veers off on tangents, such as presenting detailed bios on several other late night hosts, many of whom were not central to the story. Consequently, the book didn't flow as well as it should have, and I found myself waiting for it to return to the central theme: Jay, Conan, and NBC. The story could have been told in 100 fewer pages.
  • Outstanding Read

    By Bgiese
    I'm about 75% through. I thought this book was just about Conan and Leno. It's so much more. A real look behind the scenes of every late night talk show and the business of the networks that put them on the air.