A dramatic account of the politics and personalities behind NBC's calamitous attempt to reinvent late-night television.

When NBC decided to move Jay Leno into prime time to make room for Conan O'Brien to host the Tonight show-a job he had been promised five years earlier-skeptics anticipated a train wreck for the ages. It took, in fact, only a few months for the dire predictions to come true. Leno's show, panned by critics, dragged down the ratings-and the profits-of NBC's affiliates, while ratings for Conan's new Tonight show plummeted to the lowest levels in history. Conan's collapse, meanwhile, opened an unexpected door of opportunity for rival David Letterman. What followed was a boisterous, angry, frequently hilarious public battle that had millions of astonished viewers glued to their sets. In The War for Late Night, New York Times reporter Bill Carter offers a detailed behind-the-scenes account of the events of the unforgettable 2009/2010 late-night season as all of its players- performers, producers, agents, and network executives-maneuvered to find footing amid the shifting tectonic plates of television culture.
Praise for The War for Late Night

“Hugely entertaining...A suspenseful piece of business journalism.”—The New Yorker

“As thorough and detailed a story as he tells, Mr. Carter entertains us every step of the way, peppering the page with more rich comedic details than your average late-night monologue.”—The New York Times

“Makes last year’s battle royale seem far more interesting than the programs themselves.”—The Daily Beast

“A boisterous, two-timing, high-stakes drama about the business of comedy at a sinking TV network.”—Associated Press