The Late Shift - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Late Shift Reviews

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January 24, 2010
After the current Late Night situation, I decided to watch this HBO movie from Betty Thomas ("Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel").

The biggest name is this is Kathy Bates ("Titanic"). There are also John Michael Higgins ("Community") and Daniel Roebuck (Arzt from "Lost").

An entertaining story about the first late night debacle. I have no idea how accurate it is, regardless, it doesn't even place Leno in a negative light.

If you're curious about what happened between Leno and Letterman it's worth a watch. 3/5 stars. (1/24/10)
½ January 23, 2010
quite enjoyable, great acting - surprised how close they came to the actual people. nice to see what happened behind closed doors. time for a sequel?
January 17, 2010
always wanted to see this but couldnt find it... Explains what went down after Carson left the Tonight Show
½ January 12, 2010
Though it might seem to be late night TV filler, anyone who makes that assessment without watching it would be forced to make the same assessment of the programs eventually helmed by the two characters starring in this underrated gem. Daniel Roebuck, John Michael Higgins, and Rich Little knock it out of the park as, respectively, Leno, Letterman, and Carson.

Though their interpretations can, at times, border on caricature, particularly Little, it's only fitting to see such larger-than-life television fixtures stuck in distressing situations. Bates is understandably amazing in the role of Kushnick (what isn't she great in?) and Treat Williams exudes the charming power one could expect from a media mogul.

In all, it's endlessly fascinating to see what happened behind the scenes, even if the outcome is apparent before you even know the movie exists. One almost has to wonder if the film doesn't gain more prevalence due to making several high-powered executives not look particularly good. Though it doesn't deserve any awards, it's well worth going out of your way to watch if you have even a tacit interest in late night television.
January 6, 2010
Utterly fascinating chronicle of the Late Night Wars.
October 10, 2009
Interesting look behind the scenes of late night tv. The callous bottom line forcing sincere humour. The two funny men have such a voice over mass culture, yet only because they play a game not their own. Some great original footage, and a good, if restrained, expose on the business behind being funny before bedtime. The industry deserves respect if only for endurance, putting on a brave face and tolerating itself.
½ September 9, 2009
Decent, interesting movie about the battle for the Tonight Show. However, while John Michael Higgins was good as David Letterman, Daniel Roebuck was fairly annoying as Jay Leno with his off-putting voice and plastic looking face.
September 3, 2009
Was Jay's manager that much of a psycho?
½ August 23, 2009
Some pretty hokey impressions of Letterman and Leno make negotiations, etc.
Super Reviewer
½ July 18, 2009
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.
June 24, 2009
the jay leno and david letterman actors were awful. the only awesome thing about this film is kathy bates playing a sociopathic agent/exec producer. and what the hell was sandra bernhardt doing in this film. surely in the mid 90's she had better things to do. oh hbo, best to put this one away for good.
½ June 15, 2009
With Jay Leno giving The Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien last month I started to search a bit about Leno on the internet. There I found all sorts of stuff about the last succession, and the struggle that went with it, of the show in 1992 which I didn't know. So when I saw they did a TV-movie about this I just had to watch it and it certainly didn't disappoint. The story was entertaining and kept your attention. John Michael Higgins did an amazing job portraying David Letterman. Letterman himself thought otherwise so I wasn't expecting a very good performance. Daniel Roebuck didn't do such a fine job playing Leno, he was very passive throughout the whole movie and his voice was very irritating. Kathy Bates carried a lot of the weight and did very well as always.
½ June 14, 2009
Letterman Is Clearly The King. Kathy Bates' Best Role!
½ June 7, 2009
Interesting film documenting the battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman to replace Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show".
½ June 7, 2009
Interesting and relevant again with Conan taking over the Tonight Show. Very good acting/impersonation of the main characters.
½ June 3, 2009
I enjoyed this film. I found that the behind the scene elements of the story to be entertaining. The story kept me interested the entire way.
June 3, 2009
Finally saw this one after about a decade of wanting to. Liked it. John Michael Higgins is great.
½ May 18, 2009
If you ever want to know the ruthlessness and dirtiness behind show business, this film explains it well; or at least when it comes to late night television.

Even though the characters may not completely look or act like Jay Leno and David Letterman, or some incidents may have been dramatize; the main concept on how Leno got The Tonight Show over Letterman, including the controversy & spiteful feelings that occurred thereafter are DEAD ON! If you are a fan of late night television, this film is extremely entertaining and even educational. The acting by Kathy Bates is amazing & memorable.

NBC's complete mess of the 1992 succession of Johnny Carson is the exact reason why Jay Leno is peacefully and respectfully handing over The Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien in 2009.
½ May 15, 2009
Fine, if you're into that sort of thing. John Michael Higgins is terrific as Letterman; Roebuck's Leno leaves something to be desired.
April 12, 2009
Entertaining story about the controversy sorrounding who was to be the next king of late night. I thought it was told well and it was fun to watch. The acting was great and the story flowed. Its crazy what went on behind the scenes. I liked it a lot and thought it was interesting how it turned out at the end.

Funny I saw this on David Letterman's 62nd birthday also the guy who played Jay Leno Was born in Bethlehem PA.
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