Deadline reports that a film about the personal life of television legend Johnny Carson is currently in the works. The project comes from producer Tom Thayer and writer John McLaughlin, who recently teamed up to make the upcoming Hitchcock, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Psycho. Early reviews of Hitchcock have been largely positive, which bodes well for Johnny Carson fans who are hoping to see the King of Late Night receive the big-screen portrayal he deserves.
The film will be based on the upcoming book Carson The Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait by Bill Zehme, the only journalist whom Carson spoke to after his retirement, and it will be interesting to see what revelations about Carson will be revealed by his friend and semi-confidant Zehme. After he retired from hosting The Tonight Show for thirty years, Carson avoided publicity, opting instead to lead an intensely private life away from the spotlight. Between his 1992 retirement and his death at age 79 in 2005, Carson made very few appearances aside from voicing himself in an episode of The Simpsons and receiving a standing ovation during a wordless walk-on appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman in 1994 (which proved to be his last ever television appearance).
No word yet on who will be directing the film, nor are there any actors attached to the project so far. Impressionist Rich Little played Carson in the 1996 HBO made-for-TV-movie The Late Shift, although at age 73 he’s probably gotten a bit too old for the part now. As for the role of Carson’s sidekick and announcer Ed McMahon, perhaps the filmmakers will consider Jack Nicholson based on the audition he gave in The Shining. (Hi-yo!)
So what do you think? Are you excited by the idea of a Johnny Carson biopic? Do you have any ideas on who should play him? Did my lame Jack Nicholson joke really warrant a “Hi-yo”? Let us know in the comments.