THE LATE SHIFT was the HBO movie based on the book based on the time when Jay Leno and David Letterman were fighting over taking over The Tonight Show. It seeks to put you backstage and in the board rooms and Emmy parties to see with your own simulated eyes what happened. But at the same time it can’t help but distance you because that’s not Leno or Letterman, in my opinion it’s actually a couple of actors doing impressions. They also have legendary unfunny impressionist Rich Little playing Johnny Carson. He does a good impression but looks nothing like him, so in his scenes you just have to look away from the screen and then it seems like it’s Johnny.
The guy that plays Leno is Daniel Roebuck, who also plays talk show host Morris Green in the Rob Zombie pictures. And he was in BUBBA HO-TEP. Letterman is played by John Michael Higgins (BLADE: TRINITY). It’s also populated with character actors like Bob Balaban and Ed Begley Jr. playing executives whose names you used to hear all the time in the ’80s and ’90s but never really paid attention to who they were. Treat Williams plays Letterman’s super agent Michael Ovitz, so it’s the guy from the SUBSTITUTE sequels playing the guy who got Seagal into movies. The director is Betty Thomas, a fairly respected filmatist at the time because THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE and then PRIVATE PARTS were better than anybody expected. But I just looked it up and it turns out her most recent directorial work is ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS THE SQUEAKQUEL, so I guess that’s how that story ended. (read the rest of this shit…)
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.