The Larry Sanders Show, one of TV’s greatest meta-comedies, starred the late great Garry Shandling as a late-night talk show host and the craziness that inhabited his brain and his colleagues behind the scenes. It was what could’ve been had Shandling taken over The Tonight Show from Johnny Carson.
Now here’s There’s Johnny!, an eight-episode scripted series set behind the scenes of Carson’s Tonight Show on NBC in the 1970s, coming soon to Seeso (owned by NBCUniversal).
Seeso announced the series order today. There’s Johnny! comes from Paul Reiser, himself one of the beneficiaries of Carson’s move of The Tonight Show from New York City to Burbank, Calif., in the 1970s.
Reiser is writing the series with David Steven Simon, with David Gordon Green directing, and joining them as executive producers.
“Growing up, the coolest thing imaginable was to someday get on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and make Johnny laugh. The fact that I got to do that was a dream come true, and going back now to explore that world, and pay homage to Johnny and that golden time is an absolute joy,” Reiser said.
Added Seeso boss Evan Shapiro: “1972 was as chaotic as today – cultural unrest, an unpopular war, an election that would change politics forever. Despite that, each night, from a studio in Burbank, a bunch of folks put on a show that made all of America smile, together. This inventive story looks back, and inward, at just how important humor is to the American psyche. Plus, the chance to bring both Paul Reiser and Johnny Carson back to the NBCUniversal family is an awesome, once in a lifetime thing.”
The show’s description focuses on “Andy, a wide-eyed 19-year-old Nebraskan who stumbles his way into a job at The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson and Joy, a young Talent Coordinator on the show, as they both try to find their way and prove themselves in this period of cultural and political upheaval. The show will touch on major historical events of the time, including the Vietnam War, Nixon, and the strengthening counter-culture, as well the show’s status as one of the most popular and important cultural institution of its day.”
There’s Johnny! will mesh actual footage from Carson’s Tonight Show with the new comedy plots, produced in conjunction with the Carson Estate. and with unprecedented Carson’s nephew Jeff Sotzing, who runs the Carson Estate, also will executive produce.
Brian Volk-Weiss, Michael Pelmont, Cisco Henson, and Matt Ochacher also will executive produce along with Seeso’s Evan Shapiro, Kelsey Balance and Dan Kerstetter. Craig Knizek will serve as Producer. Nuance Productions, Comedy Dynamics, and Rough House will co-produce in partnership with the Carson Estate.
For more actual behind-the-scenes talk of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, be sure to listen to The Carson Podcast hosted by Mark Malkoff.