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The Story of Late Night

Tracking the history of late-night TV from its inception, featuring stories about hosts such as Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, David Letterman, O'Brien, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, and Amber Ruffin.

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Episodes Season 1

  • 1. Inventing Late Night

    Steve Allen’s zany spontaneity turns Tonight into an unexpected hit, but it’s Jack Paar and Johnny Carson that transform late night into an enduring television staple.

  • 2. Carson: King of Late Night

    Johnny Carson deftly navigates the turbulent 1960s to elevate The Tonight Show and become the undisputed king of late night.

  • 3. Eyes on the Throne

    As the 1980s dawn, David Letterman reinvents late night for a new generation and endless speculation begins on who will be Johnny Carson’s eventual successor.

  • 4. Letterman V. Leno

    Carson’s 1992 retirement touches a nation - and touches off an epic late-night war between Jay Leno and David Letterman.

  • 5. Late Night Makes the News

    As the 2000s unfold, diverse voices like Chelsea Handler and George Lopez get their seat behind the late-night desk, while Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert take the news into their own hilarious hands.

  • 6. Reinventing Late Night

    Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah follow in Leno, Letterman, and Stewart’s footsteps and new hosts James Corden, Seth Meyers, Amber Ruffin, and Desus + Mero join the late-night tv ranks.

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