If you’ve ever wondered why all late night talk shows look essentially the same, there’s a method to the madness — and it’s linked to the early days of late night programming.
Decades ago, TV broadcasts ended after primetime. After some networks realized there was an open slot to add more programming, the late night show was born. The very first attempt was produced by CBS and hosted by actress Faye Emerson. While it was short-lived, it became the blueprint for a new arena for television programming.
But, It wasn’t until NBC began producing "The Tonight Show" in 1954 that the late night format would really start to take shape. When host Johnny Carson took over the show in 1962, his opening monologue, stage arrangement, and ending musical number became the industry standard.
However, a more subtle reason why late night shows of today continue to mimic the past goes beyond Carson's format preference and deals with somewhat more theatrical perceptions of power.
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Video produced by Sarah Gervasoni and Christine Beldon. Article written by Lawrence Banton.