Monday, January 24, 2005

Johnny Carson's Passing

STLtoday - Entertainment - TV & Radio
Mr. Carson was often called the ``king of late night,'' and he wielded an almost regal power. Beyond his enormous impact on popular culture, Mr. Carson more than any other individual shifted the nexus of power in television from New York to Los Angeles, with his decision in 1972 to move his show from its base in Rockefeller Center in New York to NBC's West Coast studios in Burbank, Calif. That same move was critical in the changeover of much of television from live to taped performances.

Over the three decades, Mr. Carson impaled the foibles of seven presidents and their aides, as well as the doings of assorted nabobs and stuffed shirts from the private sector: corporate footpads and secret polluters, tax evaders, preening lawyers, idiosyncratic doctors, oily accountants, defendants who got off too easily and celebrities who talked too much.

Johnny was, more than anything, us. At my home my parents and I never missed Johnny each night, and after I left and got married, neither did I. As I got older I watched him less and less, but I never tired of him. He was an extremely classy entertainer. I don't remember him ever making a political statement, or "saving" the children, the whales, the people from war, etc. Maybe he did, but I didn't catch it.

We probably only deserve one Johnny in a generation, I got mine, I hope the kids will get theirs. Unfortunately, with the myriad choices of entertainment available today, I doubt it will happen.


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