Johnny Carson Biopic is Being Developed from Writer of 'Hitchcock'
by Ethan Anderton
November 14, 2012
Writer John McLaughlin already tackled one of entertainment's most iconic figures in his film Hitchock, which follows famed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, his troubled marriage, and the making of his classic horror film Psycho. Now the writer will move to TV for his next big screen subject as Deadline has word that McLaughlin and Hitchcock producer Tom Thayer are working with the estate of The Tonight Show host Johnny Carson to craft a feature film about his life and career during the late night talk show. A script is already being written and will be shopped around to some potential buyers after the holidays. More below!
The film will used Bill Zehme's book Carson the Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait. Zeheme is no stranger to the late night TV circuit as the journalist has also written several features on the late night battle between Jay Leno and David Letterman. He's also quite the elite Carson expert as Zeheme was the only journalist that Carson spoke to after retiring from TV, and also served as a consultant and talking head on King of Late Night, a PBS documentary about Carson's career that was nominated for an Emmy. Sounds like the perfect source material for a proper cinematic chronicle of Johnny Carson's work, a career that will likely never be replicated in fame or respect on late night TV.
The question is, who has the acting chops to bring such an iconic man who came into millions of viewers' homes night after night for decades? My first choice would be Kevin Spacey. The actor has an amazing impression that isn't over-the-top, and he's an Oscar caliber talent. See his rendition of Johnny Carson interviewing Jimmy Fallon right here:
Or maybe this could be a prime time for Dana Carvey to return to the spotlight with his Carson impression that was a big hit on "Saturday Night Live" back in the 90s. This was more comedic than anything, but who says Carvey couldn't surprise everyone with an awards worthy performance? See his Carson act here:
But neither of these actors are all that young, and if Carson's earlier career is going to be a focus, they might need a younger actor. Though I've never seen Bill Hader do a Johnny Carson impression, I'm betting he could pull it off, and he deserves a meaty role like this to boost his career even further. It's just a shame that Phil Hartman has passed away, because he could make the perfect Ed McMahon. However, I can easily see Philip Seymour Hoffman stepping into that role for an Academy Award worthy performance as well. The project is just getting started though, so stay tuned for more.