Paul Reiser’s pet project finds a second home on Hulu.
Unless you were around to experience the phenomenon yourself, it’s nearly impossible to fathom Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show’s impact on the country. The Tonight Show was a big deal back before hundreds of TV channels, home video, and streaming services fractured the country’s entertainment viewing habits. For 30-years, Carson provided a platform for the entertainment industry’s biggest and brightest stars to entertain huge TV audiences. You didn’t officially arrive in Hollywood until you stood onstage with Johnny, cracked a joke with Ed McMahon, and shared an anecdote or two with the rapt TV audience. Carson remained on the air for 30-years and I can’t even imagine how many insane stories the show’s staff amassed during that time. That’s why I’ve been keeping tabs on Hulu’s upcoming series, There’s… Johnny!, which drops in a couple of weeks. The series goes back in time to explore the organized chaos that went into running the nightly series.
There’s… Johnny! tells the story of a small-town kid who lands a dream job working for The Tonight Show during its glory days in the 70’s. There’s… Johnny!, a pet project of Paul Reiser, was initially supposed to air on NBC Universal’s Seeso digital platform this past August. When Seeso shut down, Reiser scrambled to find another home for his seven-episode series.
The show features a solid cast which includes Tony Danza, Jane Levy, T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh, and Ian Nelson as the show’s fish out of water protagonist, Andy Klavin. There’s… Johnny! has one more ace up its sleeve: David Gordon Green is on board as executive producer and he is also listed as directing a couple of episodes. Here’s a look at the trailer:
I’m liking the show’s Almost Famous vibe with a hint of Forrest Gump in its use of actual The Tonight Show footage. Whether it’s 30 Rock, The Larry Sanders Show, or The Muppet Show, I get a kick from TV series about the making of TV series. Each of these shows are masterful in how they use humor to skewer entertainment industry personalities and Hollywood tropes but they all take place in fictionalized worlds — yes, even The Muppets — and I’m intrigued by the idea of seeing what it took to keep an operation of The Tonight Show’s magnitude running smoothly.
In addition to the subject matter, I’m excited to see what Green brings to the table here. Green’s career continues moving along an unusual trajectory: He made a name for himself with the dreamy, Terrence Malick-like indie-flick, George Washington, then he carved out a niche in the comedy world with titles like Eastbound & Down and Pineapple Express, and then in 2017, he wowed audiences with the feel-good biopic Stronger. Green has proven himself a versatile force behind the camera and I’m curious how he applies his finely-honed dramedy chops to There’s… Johnny! as the show tackles serious subject matter like Vietnam, Watergate, and male/female wage inequality.
You can catch There’s… Johnny!’s seven-episode season on Hulu starting November 16th.
Here’s a synopsis for There’s… Johnny!
1972, Burbank, California. 19-year-old Andy Klavin (Ian Nelson) is surprised to have stumbled his way into a job at “The Tonight Show” starring his hero, Johnny Carson. A coming-of-age story, we follow this kid who up till now has never left Nebraska, and is now caught up in the glamorous, fast lane of Hollywood. Sex, drugs, rock & roll – and show business; it’s a long, magical journey ahead. Also starring Jane Levy and Tony Danza. Complete season one streaming November 16 only on Hulu.