Reviews for Johnny Carson


Booklist Reviews 2013 December #1
Show-business junkies old enough to have spent many of their late nights between 1962 and 1992 watching Johnny Carson, "the King of Late Night," will likely devour this long-anticipated memoir in one gulp. Notorious for keeping his distance from one and all, even those he purportedly loved, Carson was perhaps closest to Henry Bushkin, his lawyer and consigliere for 18 years, from 1970 to 1988; the relationship ended badly, but Bushkin--self-described as Carson's "lawyer, counselor, partner, employee, business advisor, earpiece, mouthpiece, enforcer, running buddy, tennis pal, drinking and dining companion, and foil"--may be the one living person capable of giving readers at least a glimpse of the man behind the genial, oh-so-smooth mask. Naturally, there is more than one man back there. Carson, Bushkin says, "was endlessly witty and enormously fun to be around," but he also could be "the nastiest son of a bitch on earth." The text provides multiple examples of both sides of Carson's Mr. Hyde personality, but, of course, it is the petulant, boozing, womanizing Johnny that will draw the most attention: throwing tantrums over perceived slights at Ronald Reagan's inauguration, at having to wait for a suite at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, at Joan Rivers' decision to launch a competing late-night show without first informing Carson, and, above all, at his mother's refusal to acknowledge both Carson's success and his lavish gifts to her (his mother's coldness, Bushkin and many others believe, was at the root of Carson's own iciness in personal relationships). The portrait of Carson offered here, though, goes way beyond dish: it is a genuinely multifaceted look at the burdens and the excesses of celebrity. Equally fascinating, though, is Bushkin's own story: how a young entertainment lawyer fell into a honey pot but became stuck in the sweetness, obsessed with trying to keep his client "happy" while his own personal life and marriage tumbled into disarray. What would Carson have made of this book? Perhaps he might have recognized Bushkin's undying regard, even love, for his former running buddy, but more likely, Bad Johnny would have quoted from his Tonight Show character Carnac the Magnificent: "May a love-starved fruit fly molest your sister's nectarines." Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 October #2
The King of Late Night's lawyer, confidant, tennis partner and butt of his "Bombastic Bushkin" gags appraises their 18-year relationship. Mainly due to the often bitter jokes he began making about marriage, often at his own expense, around the time of his expensive divorce from his third wife in the early 1980s, Johnny Carson (1925–2005) is known for his marital troubles. Though the late-night host is also known for his reclusiveness from the Hollywood scene--a reputation Bushkin demonstrates was not entirely warranted--most casual observers may not know that Carson had difficulty with all sorts of relationships, beginning with his praise-stingy mother Ruth, whose approval Carson vainly sought until her death, and continuing with his three sons (Carson admitted to being a poor, distant father). Fresh out of Vanderbilt Law School at 23, Bushkin began working for Carson in 1970 and had, arguably, the closest and sturdiest relationship with Carson of the entertainer's entire life until its acrimonious end in 1988 ("Johnny terminated our relationship in a mere three-minute conversation….There was no final act"). The secret to his success? At the expense of his own marriage and relationships with his children, Bushkin made it his career to keep Carson happy at all hours of the day and night. This might mean getting him a contract with NBC that made him the highest-paid entertainer in the world. It could also mean breaking and entering into Carson's second wife's adulterous "love nest" to gather evidence for divorce, listening to a drunken Caron's self-psychoanalysis at an after-hours watering hole, disappearing discreetly when one of the boss's many voluptuous playmates appeared, or stepping between Carson and people he wanted to hit or who wanted to hit him. Carson partisans may find this memoir self-serving (what memoir isn't?), but most readers will be captivated by this high-definition, off-camera, extreme close-up view of the enigmatic entertainer. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 November #1

Bushkin performed many roles for the King of Late Night Johnny Carson during their 18-year relationship--lawyer, advisor, tennis partner, to name a few--but the role of best friend is the one that never quite fit. In this biography/memoir hybrid, Bushkin recounts his tenure working under Carson at Carson Productions and living it up with his boss in Vegas and on yachts. He provides a keen glimpse at what this iconic comedian was really like: a man who was generous and beloved but "capable of marring a nice moment with a cutting remark." And it was those cutting remarks and erratically sour moods, which Bushkin blames on Carson's fraught relationship with his mother, that pushed others away from Carson, including three wives, and eventually poisoned his relationship with the author. Bushkin constantly reevaluates their relationship as he reveals the monstrous side of Carson and how fearful Bushkin was of incurring his wrath. With all this, the book is an insightful glimpse into the world of The Tonight Show and the star-studded life of Carson. An addictive read. (Oct.)

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews

Bushkin performed many roles for the King of Late Night Johnny Carson during their 18-year relationship--lawyer, advisor, tennis partner, to name a few--but the role of best friend is the one that never quite fit. In this biography/memoir hybrid, Bushkin recounts his tenure working under Carson at Carson Productions and living it up with his boss in Vegas and on yachts. He provides a keen glimpse at what this iconic comedian was really like: a man who was generous and beloved but "capable of marring a nice moment with a cutting remark." And it was those cutting remarks and erratically sour moods, which Bushkin blames on Carson's fraught relationship with his mother, that pushed others away from Carson, including three wives, and eventually poisoned his relationship with the author. Bushkin constantly reevaluates their relationship as he reveals the monstrous side of Carson and how fearful Bushkin was of incurring his wrath. With all this, the book is an insightful glimpse into the world of The Tonight Show and the star-studded life of Carson. An addictive read. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

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