It’s difficult to believe, as Henry Bushkin told us for Mediabistro’s latest “So What Do You Do?“, that he had a hard time initially interesting New York publishers in his tell-all memoir Johnny Carson. But in the end, a book first envisioned as a self-published enterprise has arrived at a time that feels just right, framed by Janet Maislin’s rave review in The New York Times.
In one unpublished portion of our Mediabistro conversation, Bushkin addressed Carson’s celebrated falling out with Joan Rivers. He reconfirmed his view that it all came down to some very duplicitous actions by Rivers’ late husband Edgar:
“This guy was as shady as you can possibly imagine, right? When I say “Inspector Clouseau”, that’s who he was. But he was the devious Inspector Clouseau. He clearly said that he called me several times, OK? He never called me once. And I’m certain he told his wife, ‘I tried to tell these guys, but Bushkin wouldn’t return my call.'”
“And here’s the think everyone should know. Johnny never felt this woman could carry a show more than one week at a time. The public would just get too much of her. One week is enough; two weeks in a row, not good. She would do the guest hosting one week at a time, and every time, she rehearsed two weeks for the one week. For those two weeks prior, she was playing little clubs doing her material for the one week. So when she did her one week, she was really well prepared. When she did her own [Fox] show, she had one day to prepare. You get it? Not possible with her, just not possible. And that show lasted a dismal couple of months.”
Bushkin feels that had Rivers not been tripped up by Edgar, Johnny would have given his blessings and she would likely have been back in The Tonight Show fold within a year. Read the Mediabistro Q&A here.
Previously on Mediabistro:
Who Should Play Johnny Carson in the NBC Miniseries?
Tonight Show Chatter Has LA Producer Remembering Carson’s Killer Extra 15 Minutes
‘Bombastic Bushkin’ Reveals the Man Behind The Tonight Show Curtain
Jacket cover courtesy: Eamon Dolan Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt