Bill Carter, the New York Times‘ TV industry reporter who literally wrote the book on late night, is working on a new book for Viking that will focus on the recent drama between Conan O’Brien, Jay Leno and NBC.
Carter called us from California, where he’s doing research. “I’m reaching out to everyone I possibly can to get every side of the story,” he told us.
Carter said he isn’t taking a Team Conan or Team Jay stance now–or in the book. “I obviously have to reach out to all sides,” he said. “For the longest time, I personally tried to watch as many episodes of all the shows as I could to get sense of each show, and what each guy does. I don’t just pick one and stick with that guy.”
Although the book will touch on many of the TV industry’s struggles, Carter said he is focusing on the recent late-night infighting. “It’s fun to have something to write about again,” he said.
Carter’s 1992 The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night had exclusive details about one of televisions most infamous power struggles: the original battle between NBC, CBS, Jay Leno and David Letterman for Johnny Carson’s seat on the Tonight Show. The Late Shift revealed secret NBC documents; Johnny Carson’s role in Letterman’s decision to join CBS; and ridiculous scenes like Jay Leno hiding in a closet to spy on a secret NBC staff meeting. It was later turned into an 1996 HBO movie.
His new book, which he is writing for Viking, is sure to have more theatrical scenes from based on the new network drama.
Is this the Late Shift sequel we’ve been waiting for?
Carter says he’s working as fast as he can for his publisher. “The events of the past month have made it kind of important to get it out as soon as we can, but the story is still going on,” he told us.
As for the book, we might not be able to read Carter’s on the late night drama until this fall or later.
In the meantime, we can watch David Letterman imagine a version of the Late Shift 2 on HBO:
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