Johnny Carson Biopic series starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in hits Market – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: The story of one of America’s most beloved TV personalities, Johnny Carson, may finally come to the screen. A high-profile series starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Carson, written by Deadwood creator David Milch and to be directed by Jay Roach, was recently taken out and has warmed up the premium market. The project with the title King of late night, is a co-production between wiip and anonymous content.

David Milch, Jay Roach

The series will follow the life and career of TV pioneer Johnny Carson from New York to Los Angeles to the Las Vegas Strip. King of late night will reveal how Johnny’s hard connection to his audience overlapped with his lifelong desire for a basic quality of life, and how his beloved persona on screen came into conflict with the more colorful aspects of his personal life.

Carson, who grew up in Nebraska and served in the Navy during World War II before going to college, started his career in local radio and television before switching to network game shows and landing NBC’s The Tonight Show, which Carson had hosted for 30 years, from 1962-92. Famous for his nocturnal presence on screen, Carson was very private off-screen, avoiding the social circuit of a personal life that included four marriages.

King of late night originated about five years ago when Milch was used by Anonymous Content to develop it. Roach subsequently came on board, with indie studio wiip joining as co-producer and Gordon-Levitt as star. Milch had already been working on the script for a few years when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019.

Gordon-Levitt, Milch and Roach produce with wiips Paul Lee and David Flynn as well as Paul Green and Salmira Productions.

There have been several previous attempts to make a Jonny Carson biography, including a feature and an NBC miniseries, both based on Bill Zehme’s book Carson The Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait, which was announced about a decade ago but came to nothing. On television, the late supper was portrayed by Rich Little in the 1996 HBO movie The late shift. In addition, the comedy-drama series from 2017 There’s … Johnny!created by Paul Reiser and David Steven Simon, takes place in the 1970s and depicts the fictional events behind the scenes of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.

Gordon-Levitt, Milch and Roach are all multiple Emmy winners. Gordon-Levitt currently stars as Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick in the Showtime series Super pumped. Prior to that, he created, executive produced and ran the Apple TV + series Mr. Corman. His feature credits include The Trial of the Chicago 7, The Dark Knight Rises and Beginning. Gordon-Levitt, who has two Emmy Awards in the categories of interactive programming, is represented by WME and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.

Milch helped create NYPD blue and Luck, recently worked on the third part of HBOs Real detective and on Deadwood film, a sequel to his cult favorite HBO drama series. Milch, who won three Emmys for NYPD blue and one more Hill Street Blues, also just finished his memoirs, The work of life, which is expected to be released in September. He is represented by ICM Partners.

Roach won four Emmys as the director and executive producer of the HBO films Tell and Game change. In feature, he has most recently directed and produced the feature Bomb. Roach then has the Apple TV + comedy series High desert, which he instructs and produces. He is represented by WME, Mosaic and Behr Abramson Levy Johnson.

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