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Johnny Carson’s Life Getting Feature Treatment from ‘Hitchcock’ Scribe

Written by on November 13, 2012 

Even though he stands as the most beloved and most successful talk show host in history — not to mention one of the longest-running — Johnny Carson‘s biggest place in the cinematic canon is owed entirely to The Shining. That’s a rather good one, actually — better than the current run’s relegation to onscreen cameos in some studio comedy — but is it exactly enough? Given how much he did with The Tonight Show and, not to mention, how much impact that actually carries to this day, something worthwhile must lie in that experience.

A few people with checkbooks agree, as Deadline tell us Tom Thayer and John J. McLaughlin, Hithcock‘s respective producer and screenwriter, have been given the Carson estate’s go-ahead to make his private and public life the subject of a new feature. The scribe is currently working on his adaptation of Carson the Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait, a book on the late night host; what makes this one special is authorship by Bill Zehme, a semi-confidant of the man at hand who, himself, can be known as “the only journalist Carson spoke to after his retirement.” We’re talking about a typically private man who went into a near-total silence after 30 years on the air, so, in my book, that counts for a good deal.

Nothing about a director or star has been stated at this time, though I expect the parties have someone in mind. (No clue, personally.) Promising as I may think his life is for the screen treatment, however, the team is a little bothersome when considering a few of the things I’ve heard about Hitchcock — a set which ranges from “misfire” to “appalling” — and if they can screw up The Master of Suspense, a late night king is pretty easy to take aim at. With any luck, this is all just a mixed signal on my part.

Do you think Johnny Carson would work as a film subject?

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