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    Today Show

    Today Show

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    NBC
    On January 14 1952, The Today Show, a long running morning news program on NBC, went on the air. It aired at 7:00 A.M. (Eastern Time) as a 2-hour news and information show. For many years it was a 2-hour program from 7:00 to 9:00 ET, until NBC expanded it to 3 hours (7-10 A.M. Eastern Time) on October 2, 2000. On September 10, 2007 a fourth hour was added to the show. Today was the first of its genre when it first signed on with host Dave Garroway. The show successfully blends national news headlines, in-depth interviews with newsmakers, lifestyle features, other light news and gimmicks (including the presence of the chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs as the show's mascot during the early years), and local news updates. It has spawned several other shows of a similar type, including ABC's Good Morning America, CBS's The Early Show, and the Canadian series, Canada AM. The show is filmed and produced at studio 1A in Rockefeller Center, New York, just across the street from NBC headquarters at the GE Building. The studio is located right next to the street and many times the hosts do the weather or other events from outside. Today was the brainchild of Pat Weaver, who was then vice-president of NBC. Later, he became president of the company from 1953 to 1955, and then served as chairman of the board for another year. The show is currently hosted by Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer. Al Roker does weather updates and Ann Curry reads news headlines. Gene Shalit is the entertainment critic. Previous hosts have included Bryant Gumbel, Jane Pauley, Deborah Norville, Tom Brokaw, Barbara Walters, Hugh Downs, and Flyod Kalber. Popular former weathercaster Willard Scott still appears on the show daily doing the 100th birthday announcements he first became famous for in the 1980s.moreless
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    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast

    Dean Martin Celebrity Roast

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    NBC (ended 1984)
    In 1973, The Dean Martin Show was declining in popularity. So for the 1973 - 1974 season, a new feature called a "roast" was added to try to pick up the ratings. The roasts seemed to be pretty popular among television audiences. So after the show was cancelled in 1974, NBC drew up a contract with Dean to do several specials and do more roast specials. Enter The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. Starting with Bob Hope in 1974, the roast was taped in California and turned out to be a hit, leading to many other roasts to follow. In the fall of 1974, the roasts moved permanently to the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. From 1974 until early 1979, in the hotel's Ziegfeld Room, stars like Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, Joan Collins, and many others were roasted.moreless
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    NBC Nightly News

    NBC Nightly News

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    NBC
    Currently anchored by Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News is NBC's evening news program, watched by millions of Americans every night. NBC Nightly News originated from the Huntley-Brinkley Report, but when David Huntley retired, they changed the name and format. You can catch the show every evening at 6:30 PM ET / 5:30 PM CT.moreless
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    The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

    The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

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    NBC (ended 1992)
    Six months after Jack Paar made a stormy departure from "The Tonight Show" (over jokes about Communism, among other issues) and viewers enduring a succession of "substitute" hosts (and an ill-fated attempt at a magazine-type show), NBC (and middle America) finally got the comedian they were waiting for. Johnny Carson – who had honed his craft on radio and daytime television, and to that point was best known as host of Who Do You Trust – made his debut as host of "The Tonight Show" on October 1, 1962. Thus began a love affair with America that lasted 30 years, not only making Carson wealthy and powerful, but earning him the title, "King of Late Night." It started out shaky. NBC built Carson a cheap set on the sixth floor of 30 Rockefeller Center, not thinking the show would last. Ed McMahon was less confident; he still lived in Philadelphia and commuted for the next three years. In 1962, "Tonight" began at 11:15 pm ET and lasted 105 minutes. By then, most NBC affiliates had inflated their late-evening newscasts to half an hour. It meant that, unless viewers tuned in on the NBC owned-and-operated stations in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles, chances are they missed Carson's monologue. NBC quickly moved the start time of Johnny's show to 11:30 pm ET to ensure everyone could see the best part of his domain. In 1972, the show moved from New York to NBC's West Coast headquarters, thus setting up countless gags about "beautiful downtown Burbank." For a number of years, NBC reran "Tonight" on weekends at 11:30 pm ET. These reruns, of course, didn't score nearly the ratings as the originals maintained. By the end of 1974, Carson told NBC to turn their late weekends to another program. NBC hired a young Canadian performer and writer named Lorne Michaels to develop (what would quickly become) the "Tonight" antithesis -- Saturday Night Live. Carson became the man with whom millions of Americans ended their day with a relatively simple formula: an opening monologue of topical (sometimes corny) humor. Johnny's stock in trade became his down-home, glib sense of humor and his natural wit. He possessed the knack of being equal parts L.A. hip and Midwest backward. However, he never mocked people or resorted to mean-spirited or cheap, off-color jokes; instead, he often poked fun at human nature and events of the day in such a way that made America know it was OK to laugh at themselves. The Carson Monologue became "must see TV," and to miss a night was leave one's self less than "in the know" at the water cooler the following day. On one occasion, a Carson joke about toilet paper shortage actually led to hoarding of the product by thousands of consumers. Following the monologue, viewers saw either a "desk bit" between Carson and McMahon, or a more elaborate, produced skit. Then, interviews and performances by a wide range of celebrities followed (some reports have Johnny's guest list at more than 20,000). Carson was often at his best while interviewing the "everyday" person, especially young children. Some of the notable skits and features: • Carnac the Magnificent – Debuting in 1964, Carson (wearing a jeweled and feathered turban) would "divine" answers to questions from "hermetically sealed" envelopes, a standard gag from Vaudeville. Example: "The answer is...Chicken teriyaki! The question..."What is the name of the last surviving Japanese kamikaze pilot?" • The Mighty Carson Art Players – Starting in 1967, this catch-all title featured parodies of movies, TV shows and commercials. Classic skits included a tongue-twisting take-off on Dragnet (1968, with Jack Webb); commercial parodies of E.F. Hutton (with a deceased Carson rising from a casket to "my broker is E.F. Hutton..."), American Express (with Carson as Karl Malden), Energizer Batteries (Carson as Robert Conrad), and various diarrhea commercial take-offs. Also under the "Mighty Carson" umbrella was the Tea Time Movie sketch, with Carson playing Art Fern, an oily afternoon movie host and commercial huckster. These sketches were full of double entendre humor, first featuring busty Carol Wayne as the straight foil, "the Matinee Lady." Following Wayne's drowning death in 1985, Teresa Ganzel was added. Other classic moments included Carson as President Reagan (and actor Fred Holliday) in a hilarious "Who's On First?"-style routine, and a duet with Julio Iglesias ("To All The Girls I've Loved Before"), with Carson giving a convincing Willie Nelson impersonation. • Floyd R. Turbo – The super-patriot who gave over-the-top editorials. Other memorable moments: • Falsetto-singer and ukulele player Tiny Tim on-air marriage to Miss Vicki (Vicki Budinger) on December 17, 1969. • Ed Ames infamous tomahawk throw demo, striking the outlined target squarely in the crotch. • The marmoset who relieved itself while poking around at Carson's head; plus other animals (brought on by frequent guests Joan Embery and Jim Fowler) who refused to behave or were just being themselves. • Potato chip collector Myrtle Young, who momentarily thinks Johnny has eaten one of her prized chips. Among the performers who owe (at least part) of the beginning of their careers to Carson: Joan Rivers, Roseanne Barr, Drew Carey, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling, plus many others. Ironically, Letterman (a frequent "Tonight" guest host in the late 1970's) was Carson's first choice as his successor. Leno, however, had already been given the seat as "permanent guest host," following Carson's professional breakup with Joan Rivers (who had joined the up and coming FOX Network to do her own late night show in 1986.) Leno, though seen by some at NBC as "too ethnic looking," had the favor of NBC's West Coast executives, and was chosen over Letterman, whom NBC West saw as "too cranky and edgy" to replace the mild-mannered Carson. This was perceived as a final snub to Carson, and prompted Letterman to defect to CBS, and compete head to head against the show he'd always wanted to host. The entire "Tonight" endgame saga would be the subject of Bill Carter's book The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno & the Network Battle for the Night (later turned into an HBO film, with Rich Little as Johnny). Carson's 30-year ride was hardly without its more tenuous moments, thanks to several contract disputes and his well-publicized failed marriages (he was thrice divorced during his run on the show). Carson's "alimony payment" jokes would become a staple of the show. Following much protracted negotiation (including talk of his leaving "Tonight"), Carson signed a new contract with NBC in 1980. Three stipulations in the deal: 1) "Tonight" was reduced from 90 minutes to 60; 2) Carson would dictate what kind of show NBC could run at 12:30 am ET. This meant replacing Tom Snyder's Tomorrow show with from Carson's stable. 3) Carson Productions was formed. Among its most heralded works was the show that followed "Tonight" -- Late Night with David Letterman. Carson Productions' other gift to NBC was a series of specials called Television's Greatest Commercials, hosted by Ed McMahon. McMahon was also a victim of a one-shot deal called Johnny Carson's Greatest Practical Jokes, in which Johnny had loaded the trunk of Ed's car with office equipment and taped Ed failing to get past NBC Security (and a guard named Carson). Both of these specials would merge with Dick Clark's running TV Censored Bloopers in January 1984, becoming TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes. In 1983, Carson Productions produced and distributed "Carson's Comedy Classics," a somewhat low-budget, 30 minute repackaging of "Tonight" clips, culled mainly from the years 1972-1982. Carson's lock on late night came into question in the late 1980's, likely precipitated by two events: the debut of The Arsenio Hall Show in 1989, and Dana Carvey doing a less-than-loving portrayal (with Phil Hartman as a one-note Ed McMahon) of Carson on Saturday Night Live. Carvey's "Johnny" was basically a dinosaur -- a relic clueless of pop culture and mired in "unhipness." In one of the more scathing takes, Carvey presented Carson as "Carsenio," giving his Johnny a wedge cut and Arsenio-styled suit. These less-than-flattening portrayals of Carson on SNL were seen by some as NBC giving tacit approval to the move to push Johnny out. Carson, during his last show, in thanking Doc and the band, would lament TV's loss of the "last big swing band," saying, "To say that this band is not 'hip' is to not know the meaning of the word." In 1991, as Carson was starting his 29th year, the "King of Late Night" announced in his usual no-big-deal style that he was retiring, expressing a desire to leave the show while still in his prime. His second-to-last show on May 21, 1992 featured just two guests: Robin Williams and Bette Midler, with Midler serenading Carson with "One for My Baby," a teary-eyed Carson taking in the moment. The final show on May 22, 1992 was a quiet and contemplative retrospective, featuring "a day in the life" on the Tonight Show set, and a tribute to his late son, Rick (who was killed in a car crash the previous June). Alone on a stool, in front of the familiar curtain, a tearful Carson bade his audience "a heartfelt good night," thus ending not only a show, but an era of television. With very few exceptions, Carson's "Tonight" departure was the last most people saw of their beloved late-night TV comic. Most notably: a voice appearance as himself on The Simpsons episode, 'Krusty Gets Kancelled,' and a pair of appearances on Late Show with David Letterman. Just prior to Carson's death, it was revealed that Johnny would occasionally give Dave an idea or two for his monologue, thus cementing the notion that Carson saw Letterman as his true late night heir. When Johnny Carson died on January 23, 2005, America mourned the passing of a late-night legend. Jay Leno devoted his January 24, 2005 show to his predecessor (though it should be noted, Leno read a prepared "tribute" from cue cards). On the show were Ed McMahon, Drew Carey and Carson's close friends Bob Newhart and Don Rickles, all providing their remembrances. Letterman's first new show following Carson's death featured longtime "Tonight" executive producer Peter Lassally and a performance of "Here's That Rainy Day" -- one of Johnny's favorites -- by bandleader Doc Severinsen, with NBC Orchestra mates Tommy Newsom and Ed Shaughnessy. Thanks to TV Tome contributors Brian Rathjen & doppelgänger.moreless
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    Meet the Press

    Meet the Press

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    NBC
    Meet the Press debuted on November 6, 1947, and has become the longest-running television show in the history of broadcasting. Watch as the current moderator interviews some of the most influential people in Washington.moreless
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    The Tomorrow Show (1973)

    The Tomorrow Show (1973)

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    NBC (ended 1982)
    The Tomorrow Show hosted by Tom Snyder was a late-night talk show that followed The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.Tomorrow aired Mondays through Thursdays (or, to be more exact, early morning Tuesdays through Fridays). Tomorrow started as a 60-minute series, sometimes known as The Tomorrow Show or Tomorrow starring Tom Snyder. Produced by Rudy Tellez, the show won two EMMY's for its host Tom Snyder in 1974 and 1975. The program expanded to 90 minutes in September 1980. A month later, Rona Barrett joined the series. She eventually became the West Coast co-host and the series was re-titled Tomorrow Coast-To-Coast. Rona Barrett stayed with the show through Spring 1981. In February 1982, NBC replaced Tomorrow Coast-To-Coast with Late Night with David Letterman.moreless
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    Dinah's Place

    Dinah's Place

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    NBC (ended 1974)
    "Dinah's Place" is a potpourri of fashion, practical recipes with an epicurean touch, new tricks in make-up, exercise and diet and "something for the mind" - contemporary subjects of interest to women. The Hollywood set is recreated from her own livingroom, kitchen and dining area. She jokingly hoped they'd call the program "Dinah's Bar and Grille". Sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive.

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