Johnny Carson Returns: Antenna TV to Air Full ‘Tonight Show’ Episodes

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by dirwuf, Aug 12, 2015.

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  1. dirwuf

    dirwuf Misplaced Chicagoan Thread Starter

    Fairfield, CT
    Johnny Carson Returns: Antenna TV to Air Full ‘Tonight Show’ Episodes

    Just when it seemed the late-night landscape couldn’t get more competitive, here comes Johnny Carson.

    Tribune Media’s Antenna TV, the multicast digital channel devoted to vintage television shows, will run full-length episodes of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” nightly at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT starting Jan. 1.

    Antenna TV has struck a multi-year deal with Carson Entertainment Group to license hundreds of hours of the NBC late-night institution. Antenna will run episodes that aired from 1972 through the end of Carson’s 30-year reign in in 1992. Because NBC owns the rights to “The Tonight Show” moniker, Antenna TV’s episodes will be billed simply as “Johnny Carson.”

    “This is not a clip show. This is full episodes of Johnny Carson, the man that everyone in late-night agrees was the greatest host of all time, airing in real time as he did back in the day,” Sean Compton, Tribune’s president of strategic programming and acquisitions, told Variety. “Tuning in to ‘The Tonight Show’ is like taking a walk down Main Street in Disneyland. The minute you step in there, you feel good and you know it’s a place you want to stay. We cannot wait to bring this show to fans who remember Carson and to a new generation of viewers who have never had the chance to see Johnny in his prime.”

    Antenna’s showcase will mark the first time Carson-era “Tonight Show” episodes have aired on a nightly basis since the host signed off in May 1992. Carson stayed out of the spotlight after his retirement until his death at age 79 on Jan. 23, 2005.

    “The Tonight Show” ran in a 90-minute format from the start of Carson’s run in 1962 until 1980, when it was trimmed to an hour. Antenna will air hourlong episodes on weeknights and 90-minute installments on Saturday and Sunday at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

    The scheduling of episodes will be carefully curated to run as themed weeks or months, as well as episodes that coincide with notable anniversaries, holidays and other milestones. Those could include everything from a week’s worth of “Tonight Show” debuts by future comedy superstars such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Pryor, David Letterman, Jim Carrey and Tim Allen to a month of Christmas episodes in December. Antenna’s “Tonight Show” run will begin with the New Year’s Day episode from 1982 featuring Eddie Murphy and “MASH” star McLean Stevenson.

    With all the hubbub over changes in late-night TV during the past two years, Compton had the idea to revive Carson’s “Tonight Show” in a big way. Carson Entertainment Group, headed by Jeff Sotzing, Carson’s nephew, was immediately receptive.

    “I think there’s a demographic out there that is really going to eat this up,” Sotzing told Variety. “The show will now be able to be seen by so many people who haven’t seen it before.”

    The deal involved nearly six months of negotiations with Hollywood’s talent guilds and the American Federation of Musicians. The talks were complicated because there’s not much precedent for residual fees for full-length reruns of a vintage variety show re-airing on a digital broadcast channel. A few weeks ago the deal almost fell apart over cost issues that seemed insurmountable, but Compton and his team kept hammering away until compromises were reached.

    Tribune execs are determined to keep each episode as intact as possible — which means negotiating new agreements for the show’s many musical performances on an episode-by-episode basis, in most cases.

    The full-length segs will re-introduce viewers to the show that cemented the template for the late-night talk-variety format, from the monologue to goofy banter with sidekicks to showcasing promising comedians. Carson also invented a host of characters over the years, including Carnac the Magnificent, Art Fern and Aunt Blabby, as well the leading the “Mighty Carson Art Players” sketches. Carson, Ed McMahon and bandleader Doc Severinsen were also famous for doing in-program commericals. Tribune’s sales department is looking to set up creative sponsorship deals piggybacking on those now-priceless integrations, Compton said.

    Carson Entertainment has marketed home video releases of full-length “Tonight Show” episodes in the past. But that’s not the same as being able to tune in every night as the show originally aired.

    Sadly, the first 10 years of Carson’s “Tonight Show” are lost to history, with only a handful of episodes that survive. When the “Tonight Show” made its historic move from New York to Burbank in 1972, Carson realized that NBC had no archive of his older episodes. From then on, Carson Entertainment invested in state-of-the-art archival technology to preserve his legacy — a focus that continues today.

    The 1972-1992 episodes have been digitized and meticulously transcribed and catalogued. The master tapes are buried 600 feet below the earth in a salt mine in Hutchinson, Kan. There are multiple digital copies housed in safe locations as well, according to Sotzing.

    “We continue to spend money to protect the library and make sure it’s a working library,” he said. With digital technology, “it’s amazing how we have gone from 50-pound two-inch videotapes to having hundreds of shows on a single (computer) drive.”

    Carson was pleasantly surprised after his retirement that there was a home video market for older “Tonight Show” episodes. Sotzing said he has no doubt his uncle would be happy that his life’s work still had value to a modern TV network.

    Launched in 2011, Antenna TV is carried on the multicast channels of broadcast TV stations around the country, including Tribune-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and other top markets. All told, Antenna at present is available in 102 TV markets reaching 78% of the nation’s television households. Antenna does not have broad SVOD rights to the “Tonight Show” episodes but will be able to make them available on a limited basis for authenticated streaming through MVPD partners.

    Antenna’s schedule lineup at present is anchored by such evergreens as “All in the Family,” “Bewitched,” “Green Acres,” “Father Knows Best,” “The Partridge Family” and “Leave It to Beaver.” The investment in Carson’s “Tonight Show” library is a sign that Tribune is ready to raise the profile of Antenna TV. The channel is profitable even with a modest, older-skewing audience. The hope is that a combination of nostalgia and interest in the legend of Carson will drive broader sampling of the channel.

    The “Tonight Show” project has been a labor of love for Compton, who has screened hundreds of episodes to prepare for assembling the themed packages. The plan is for Antenna to be nimble in programming episodes on short notice to respond to headlines and current events.

    “With Johnny you just have everything,” Compton enthused. “On the night of (the 2016) Indy 500, we’ll have an episode of Johnny talking about about the race. On Christmas Eve, we’ll have an episode with Jimmy Stewart telling stories about the making of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ Our possibilities are endless.”

    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  2. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Senior Member

    NJ, USA
    That is pretty awesome that they are showing full episodes--I always hate clipped up versions of talk shows/variety shows.
  3. dirwuf

    dirwuf Misplaced Chicagoan Thread Starter

    Fairfield, CT
    I still worry that they'll be edited for time reasons...a lot more commercials these days.
    Tedster and chilinvilin like this.
  4. jriems

    jriems Audio Ojiisan

    And, of course, no way to watch this in my neck of the woods.
    goodiesguy likes this.
  5. I hope I can receive this here, I will set up a TiVo season pass and be able to skip commercials and unwanted segments, which are going to be most of the recording each night but the bits I will want to watch will be worthwhile. I have been able to watch some full episodes, online streaming, the Frequency app has picked up a few and there is a Carson site and most aren't worth watching in their entirety in my opinion. This will be a better option if I can receive it here in Little Rock.
  6. MLutthans

    MLutthans That's my spaghetti, Chewbacca! Staff

  7. TeacFan

    TeacFan Forum Resident In Memoriam

    Arcadia, Ca.
    Find out if station is in your area

    Sometimes these sub carrier stations get added without publicity.
    Joshua277456 likes this.
  8. Jerry Horne

    Jerry Horne WYWH (1975-2025)

    Gonna check my garage for one those antenna things.
  9. ky658

    ky658 Senior Member

    Ft Myers, Florida
    I'm looking forward to seeing the older stuff, before the days of home VCR's...
  10. Jerry Horne

    Jerry Horne WYWH (1975-2025)

    I wish they would include the original ads.
  11. inperson

    inperson Senior Member

    I lost Antenna TV and it got replaced with Decades. It sucks.
  12. jojopuppyfish

    jojopuppyfish Senior Member

    They should start in Reverse. Show the last episode from 1992 first and work their way back to 1972.
    I was a big fan of Carson back in the 1980s and I don't think I would want to see many of the 1970s episodes.
    Ghostworld likes this.
  13. Anthology123

    Anthology123 Senior Member

    Glad I have Antenna TV now, in addition to MeTV, LaffTV, Cozi, Decades and Buzzr.
    Shvartze Shabbos likes this.
  14. jojopuppyfish

    jojopuppyfish Senior Member

    from WSJ
    The king of late night is coming back.

    Starting in January, episodes of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” will return to nightly broadcast television for the first time since the show went off the in May of 1992.

    Antenna TV, a digital broadcast network owned by Tribune Media Co., acquired the late-night classic in a deal with the Carson Entertainment Group, which controls the rights to the show and is overseen by Johnny Carson’s nephew Jeff Sotzing. Mr. Carson died in 2005.

    The agreement covers episodes of “The Tonight Show” that aired on NBC from 1972 through 1992 with the exception of those hosted by someone other than Mr. Carson and the final two broadcasts.

    “We don’t want the show to end,” said Sean Compton, Tribune’s president of strategic programming and acquisitions, on the decision to not acquire the last two episodes.

    Also not part of the collection are the New York years of “The Tonight Show.” Mr. Compton said many of those episodes were in black and white and that it is “The Tonight Show” from beautiful downtown Burbank, California, that are best remembered.

    Closing the deal was a long process, Mr. Compton said, because new agreements had to be reached with the various Hollywood unions including SAG-AFTRA, the Writer’s and Director’s Guild and the American Federation of Musicians.

    The reason those pacts had to be redone is because the original “Tonight Show” was seldom rerun. Mr. Carson used guest hosts when he took vacations.

    “We had to go through and make sure the residuals were fair to everybody,” Mr. Compton said.

    The episodes will not be edited for Antenna TV. During the week, the 60-minute episodes of “The Tonight Show,” which started in 1980, will air during the week at 11 p.m., and the pre-1980 episodes that ran 90 minutes will now air on the weekend.

    Antenna TV reaches almost 80% of the country utilizing digital spectrum. It is in the top 20 markets and its schedule is made up of primarily classic comedies including “All in the Family,” “Barney Miller” and “Good Times.”

    Some episodes of “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” have been available on YouTube on a Carson Entertainment Group channel.
    MMM and Mark Nelson like this.
  15. forthlin

    forthlin Member Chris & Vickie Cyber Support Team

    As good as he was, I wonder how well these shows stand the test of time. I think the comedy sketches with Carson would still be good, but not sure about the interview segments. I'll be checking it out though because I want to see the "take the Slawson cutoff and cut off your slawson" routine.
  16. jojopuppyfish

    jojopuppyfish Senior Member

    Opening monologues were generally very good. Interviews were generally boring. The skits before the guests were good.
  17. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    The West
    That's very impressive. I wonder how they'll address the lack of 'Tonight Show' in the actual episode. Cutting out every reference both visual and spoken, or just leaving it intact and only advertising it as 'Johnny Carson'. Still, even with the 'Tonight Show' title gone this is a pretty impressive development.

    Now if only someone would do the same with Letterman's "Late Night" shows. It CAN be done!

    dan c
  18. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Senior Member

  19. rockclassics

    rockclassics Senior Member

    Mainline Florida
    Damn. No carrier where I live.
  20. JohnBeas

    JohnBeas Senior Member

    A&E actually did rerun Letterman shows ( in the early 90's) for a short while. Apparently Letterman was not happy about it and they stopped running them after about a year.
  21. tommy-thewho

    tommy-thewho Senior Member

    detroit, mi
    No carrier that I can see. Gonna have to pressure Comcast to get it.
  22. MRamble

    MRamble Forum Resident

    Great news. Having enjoyed the last vault series DVD set that contained full episodes---this is most welcome.
    Benno123 likes this.
  23. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Senior Member

    NJ, USA

    E! and the late, great Trio reran the episodes after Letterman left NBC and couldn't do anything about it
  24. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    This is amazing.
  25. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    They should put Dave on after Johnny!
    Viva-Tonal71, old4mat, Moshe and 8 others like this.
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