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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller: A "gripping" true story of late-night comedy and behind-the-scenes drama (Los Angeles Times).

When beloved host Johnny Carson announced his retirement after 30 years on The Tonight Show, millions of Americans mourned. But inside the television industry, the news ignited a battle between two amazing talents - Jay Leno and David Letterman - who both yearned to occupy the departing legend's chair. For NBC, it would be a decision with millions of dollars at stake. 

Soon these two comedians with strikingly different styles, who had once shared a friendship as they worked the clubs together, would be engaged in a fierce competition for the prize.   

Based on in-depth reporting and interviews with those involved, and updated with a new introduction by the author, The Late Shift is a "vivid, behind-the-scenes, blow-by-blow account" of the fight that ensued, as stars, agents, and executives maneuvered for control of the most profitable program in TV history (Chicago Tribune).

©1995 Bill Carter (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The Late Shift

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Very detailed, spectacular, and riveting!

"The Late Shift" is thorough and complete. While, the movie of the same name and subject matter is splashy, engaging and quite interesting. This audiobook is that much better! This book explains the character of all the characters involved in this very public behind the scenes drama for the battle for nightly viewership in the mid-90s. This book while comprehensive on the subject, doesn't have any drag. The choice of narrator is a perfect compliment. "The Late Shift" is well worth your time!

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One of the best books about TV

The Late Shift is a classic book about the war between Leno and Letterman. I don’t think there’s very many books about TV, movies or music that’s better than this book. You get to see behind the curtains at a very tense time in the history of television. The late night God Johnny Carson was hanging it up, and thus began the squabble between Leno and Letterman for the show, with many other people pulling the strings and stoking this feud. There will never be another book like this. Epic!

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Good Listen!

Entertaining and varied insight. However I felt it got into the weeds on businessy stuff at times which Im less interested in than the personalities.

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Choppy Ending

I know this book was updated to be more current but it seemed to end a little ubrubtlly...other than that it was a great story.

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  • Sean Jackson
  • 01-06-21

Great narration. Great book.

If you’re interested in this subject you will love this book. It captures the topic perfectly and cleverly weaves the story together for a solid flow.

The narrator for this book is perfect. His delivery is exactly what is needed. I don’t recall a more ideal mix of narrator:story in my audible listening history. L

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-31-20

Fascinating with great insight

Fantastic book. You might think a topic like this could be a little dry but this had all the pace of any page turner. Was completely fascinating from start to finish. If I’m quibbling one minor point I would have liked to have heard a bit more about the fall out from hosting the Oscars but beyond that this has every insight on the subject matter you could hope for. Easily one of the best books I’ve listened to on Audible.

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  • John O' Sullivan
  • 07-06-20

Next one please!

Loved the audiobook. great story, well narrated.

Now please give us the audiobook of "the War for Late Night" by the same author. And use the same narrator.