The Late Shift (1996)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Late Shift Videos & Photos

Movie Info

Based on the book The Late Shift, this film looks behind the scenes to the conflict over who would replace Johnny Carson for the host of The Tonight Show. David Letterman has always wanted the job, but NBC chooses Jay Leno. Leno's manager Kushnick manages to anger everyone at NBC.

Rating: R (adult situations/language)
Genre: Drama, Television, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Bill Carter, George Armitage
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 30, 2005
HBO Video


as Helen Mushnick

as David Letterman

as Jay Leno

as Michael Ovitz

as Warren Littlefield

as Johnny Carson

as John Agoglia

as Rod Perth

as Howard Stringer

as Robert Wright

as Robert Morton

as Brandon Tartikoff

as Peter Lasally

as Rupert Murdoch

as Robert Iger

as Jack Welch

as Dick Ebersol

as Alan Levine

as Michael Gartner

as Lee Gabler

as Jimmy Brogan

as Susan Binford

as Debbie Vickers

as Betty Hudson

as Paul Shaffer

as Himself

as Himself
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Critic Reviews for The Late Shift

All Critics (2) | Top Critics (1)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 9, 2006
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for The Late Shift

The source material far exceeds this depiction that comes off more like a bad morning news dramatization. Those truly interested in the rich history of late night would be better off reading Bill Carter's book and other existing texts.

t h o m !

Super Reviewer


Surfing the ole satelite stations I came across this and boy, I'm glad i did fantastic little t.v. movie about the wars for former late night king Johnny Carson' seat. I didn't really realize that the t.v. business was so cut throat but then again I'm not surprised either. Enter the two combatants Jay Leno played with less conviction by Daniel Roebuck and David Lettermen played quite briiliantly by John Michael Higgins . We watch as them and their list of agents and what not do battle, now if you feel that watching some old grumpy t.v. execs argue would be a snoozefest think again, this actually is what makes the flick. Expecially an over the top performance by the always great Kathy Bates as Leno's ill fated manager Helen Kushnick, her lines throughout and how she handles her male coworkers is priceless at times, making me think even though the real Helen Kushnick passed away untimely sometime in '95 that she must've been a force to reckon with. Needless to say this is a movie worth catching.

Lee Kyle

Super Reviewer

did a straight forward job of telling what happened I always thought it was gonna get ugly between the two and it really didn't I've got a newfound respect for the both of them, if it's all true that is

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