THIS JUST IN: CET repeats the Carson/Late Night TV "Pioneers of Television" at 10 p.m. Friday 1/11/08 on Ch. 48. --Kiese
Sorry for the late notice, but here's a DVR alert for Johnny Carson fans: Tonight's "Pioneers of Television" on PBS is a wonderful tribute to Carson (8-9 p.m., Channels 48, 16).
It has great old clips from Carson's "Tonight" show, and comments from former coworkers like Ed McMahon and Doc Severinson, and former competitors Dick Cavett, Regis Philbin and the late Merv Griffin. Oddly enough, producers didn't interview David Letterman, who idolized Carson. But they do have comments from Jay Leno, who succeeded him, and former guests Betty White, Phyllis Diller, Bob Uecker and Barbara Eden and others.
Carson 's segment is the longest -- but it comes 26 minutes into the hour. The first half is devoted to Steve Allen, who invented the format still used today, and Jack Paar, a fascinating conversationalist who hosted the "Tonight" show between Allen and Carson.
I love Steve Allen, and the "Pioneers of Television" rightly praises his many talents -- sketch comedy, ad-libs, composer, interviewer -- as "an inventive arsenal of comedy." It's amazing the sidekicks Allen had in the 1950s, who went on to greater things: Tom Poston ("Newhart"), Don Knotts ("Andy Griffith Show"), Pat Harrington ("One Day At A Time").
The Paar clips are fun too. They show both his serious side (interviews with John F. Kennedy, brother Robert F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro) and lighter side (Jonathan Winters, Tommy Smothers).
It's a fun, fast hour. Enjoy.