Deadline’s tireless Mike Fleming reports that writer John McLaughlin (“Hitchcock,” “Black Swan”) and producer Tom Thayer are developing a biographical movie of Johnny Carson–with the full cooperation of the late-night king’s estate.
McLaughlin is currently working on the script. But that’s not all.
The film will be based on the upcoming Bill Zehme book “Carson The Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait.” Zehme, who has written features on late-night combatants Jay Leno and David Letterman, was the only journalist Carson spoke to after his retirement, including an Esquire cover story about how Carson marked the 10th anniversary of abdicating the late-night throne. Zehme was a consultant and appeared in “King Of Late Night,” the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary on Carson’s career.
That’s good news, since Zehme is a swell journalist and “King of Late Night” did an outstanding job in portraying all of Carson’s complications. But I have concerns/pleas:
1.) The actor for this film not only has to look and sound like Carson, he must have the emotional capabilities to bring a very public icon to life. I don’t know who you hire for that. Is Meryl Streep available?
2.) Don’t tell Carson’s entire life story. Choose a period of time. Use it to explore the nooks and crannies. That’s the one thing “Hitchcock” and “The Girl” did well.
3.) Be prepared to take your lumps from the late-night community, who treat Carson as its lord and savior. Don’t make a movie that gives them ammunition.
What do you think? Are you excited to see this project come to life? Or does it fill you with dread?