Who Should Play Johnny Carson in the NBC Miniseries?

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By Richard Horgan Comment

Our first thought was Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm. But, as a fellow ew.com┬áreader replied to us┬áin the comments, we had the right show but wrong actor. If anyone on the AMC-TV series were to be pegged to embody the original crown prince of late night talk, this person argued, it should be John Slattery.

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The challenge for the makers of this week’s announced NBC series, based on the delayed, forthcoming bio by Bill Zehme, is to find someone who can both sort of look like Johnny and sort of sound like him as well. In The Late Shift, Rich Little played Carson but because he could only carry one half of the challenge, he did not really score a full hit.

We’ve been giving this more thought. Truly, figuring out who could, should play Carson prior to the producers of the miniseries making their choice known is this year’s most fun casting parlor game. Our new suggestion for the Carson role, as of this afternoon, is…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He’s the right age; he’s got the right look; and let’s be honest, NBC can afford the right vocal coach. What do you think? Who’s your choice to play Johnny? Ed McMahon is not going to be a casting picnic either, but that’s for another post.

[Photo of Carson’s childhood home in Norfolk, Nebraska: Spirit of America/Shutterstock.com]