Johnny Carson (1925 –2005) was seen by more people on more occasions than anyone else in American history. Over the course of 30 years, 4,531 episodes and 23,000 guests, he became a fixture of national life and a part of the zeitgeist. In a 2007 TV Land/Entertainment Weekly poll, Americans voted Carson the greatest icon in the history of television. Two-time Emmy®-winning filmmaker Peter Jones explores his life, career, complexities, and contradictions in the two-hour documentary American Masters' Johnny Carson: King of Late Night, airing Wendesday, November 28, 2012 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11). 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of Carson taking over The Tonight Show from Jack Paar and the 20th anniversary of his retirement.
Narrated by two-time Oscar®-winner Kevin Spacey, the film features 45 original interviews with Carson’s friends, family, and colleagues, including his second wife Joanne, Dick Cavett, Doc Severinsen, and other The Tonight Show staff. Performers who appeared, or began their careers on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson are also interviewed, including David Letterman, Jay Leno, Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Drew Carey, Garry Shandling, Steve Martin, Angie Dickinson, Ellen DeGeneres, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Conan O’Brien, Joan Rivers, and David Steinberg.