Johnny Angel


I mentioned a moment ago that people at CBS seem absolutely terrified of doing anything to displease David Letterman. It's another thing he has in common with Johnny Carson who scared the hell out of everyone at NBC. He scared people outside NBC, too. The best example I can give you is back from 2005 when he passed away. An article moved by the Associated Press included the following…

Carson often had a cigarette in hand in the early years of "Tonight," eventually dropping the on-air habit when smoking on TV became frowned on. But he remained a heavy smoker for some years afterward, said a former associate who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Get that. Johnny is dead and yet someone who once worked for him is still afraid to be quoted directly saying that Johnny didn't quit smoking when his viewers thought he had. This is not atypical. There are lots of stories you hear about Carson that have somehow never made it to print. A new book that's coming out soon may change that.

Henry Bushkin was Johnny's lawyer and business partner for many years. You may recall Mr. Carson making reference to his business manager, "Bombastic Bushkin," who got him into some odd business deals like a Big Man's Shop in Tokyo or a tanning salon for albinos. Jokes like that. In reality, Mr. Bushkin was involved in some very good deals with Johnny…although I seem to recall that the relationship did not end well and that they parted company at some point. Since then, Bushkin has been one of the few real Carson associates willing to be quoted about him in less than glowing terms.

Around the time of Carson's passing, Bushkin was shopping around a "warts and all" book about his one-time client. The book seems to be emerging via the Carson360 website. (Quick explanation: The license plate on Carson's BMW was 360 GUY, i.e., "all-around guy." And it was not a personalized, made-to-order plate. It was just the one the state randomly assigned to him.)

The site appears to be operated by Bushkin's co-author to herald and take pre-orders for the forthcoming book, A Hard Act to Follow. I couldn't find anything there that told me how forthcoming it might be but there are some excerpts there you can read right now. As soon as it looks like it's about to come out, I'm going to order one and I'll let you know how it is.