File Size: 15572 KB
Print Length: 323 pages
Publisher: Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Reprint edition (October 15, 2013)
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
We have observed for years that Carson was aloof, demanding, and harsh -- but never read proof like this. As his fame and power grew so did his ego, and his suspicion of everyone around him, from NBC, to friends and family, and eventually Bushkin himself.
Carson nursed a terrifying, reasonless hair-trigger temper and numberless grudges. It is difficult to square our memories of the genial, gracious late-night star who spoke up tourists playing "Stump the Band" with Bushkin's portrait of the obsessive, drunken womanizer who practically got himself rubbed out for wanting to take a Mob figure's girl to bed. Or the lunatic egomaniac who required a personal apology from President Reagan after his equally out-of-balance wife Joanna dissolved into hysterics over the location of her seat at Reagan's inaugural celebration.
"He's insane, " Bushkin states he muttered to a companion after a Carson outburst ruined a getaway on a luxury luxury yacht in the Mediterranean, so that as you read Bushkin's account you will come to think also. He forces you to reappraise Ashton although you may revered his work on TV.
There's a searing view of Carson suffering at the hands of his cruel, critical Midwestern mother -- the girl refusal to express love or approval explains a lot of his pain and relationship failures. But Carson made things worse with his addictions to alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and especially beautiful women. Having been married four times but Bushkin shows he had no interest in fidelity; he seems to have acquired wives the way most people buy automobiles or refrigerators -- as necessary appliances. Bushkin titles plenty of Other Women, from Oscar winners to Vegas showgirls.
For the juicy star gossip here there is quite a lot missing. Not just a word about Carson's comedic technique, the mannerisms he stole from Jack Benny and Wendy Allen, or maybe the day-to-day functions of the little universe this individual controlled, "The Tonight Display. " Nothing about the strangest video document of Carson, the 1982 NBC special "Johnny Goes Home, " which followed him or her back to Nebraska and laid the man bare -- weird and counterintuitive for so private a guy. (He dedicated it, without doubt futilely, to his parents. ) Numbing detail about certain financial deals long gone wrong, but only a few breezy sentences about the one everyone wants to hear about -- Johnny's investment in the ill-fated DeLorean car company.
Carson not only couldn't pick winning investments, he experienced no gut for what worked in the enjoyment world outside "The Tonite Show" bubble, and no interest in learning. His Carson Productions produced a lot of TV duds and Carson hated its one untrained hit, the movie "The Big Chill. " Ashton eventually shut down his production company, like a lot of his projects, because he couldn't be bothered and hated doing business. Despite his professed disinterest in money, Bushkin's management skills meant he remaining an estate of 0 million at death.
But by Carson's passing in 2005 Bushkin was, naturally , long gone from the king's court. Carson eventually dismissed almost everyone in anger; Bushkin should have seen it coming. Inside their 18 years together Bushkin rose from meek sycophant to Hollywood strength in his own right, and Carson liked sycophants. He mimicked too many of Carson's self-destructive habits, divorcing his wife to gad about the south of France with Ashton with stars like Joyce DeWitt or Mary Scharf on his arm, invoicing everything back to NBC. (He seems remorseful now, though not about the millions Johnny put in his pocket. )
Interesting and highly readable, "Johnny Carson" is not simply a show business memoir but a Shakespearean tragedy: a Boswellian view of a tragic hero of our culture, a genius precious by millions who made himself unlovable. It will eventually make you reconsider not only Carson but many a star you think you know, individuals who "wear well, " as the saying goes, in TV. My goodness, the price that is paid for keeping the show going -- by them and those around them., Just about everyone has already covered on why this book was good. Bushkin was Carson's legal professional and close confidant for about 15 years and found Carson in the prime as The Tonight Show sponsor. One thing this publication really shows is how different a lifestyle someone like Carson has from the normal everyday person. Just something I could never imagine and not positive would completely want either. With Carson's riches emerged trouble mostly of his doing. With his many affairs that eventually brought down three marriages. Bushkin also vividly points out that his divorce from his 3 rd wife Joanna brought the most change to Carson. He became more bitter and far less trusting of men and women than before and he wasn't very having faith in before that either. Bushkin also shows how much Carson's mother made him or her the way he was. She could never go with him or show honor in the countless gifts this individual gave her. Carson was always wanting to please the girl but never could. That impacted his off period personality very much. Like many entertainers with great fame Johnny could be very good on air but when it came to dealing with people off the air it was usually a different story. If you thought
you knew Johnny just by watching his show then you should read this book. Like most people they have two attributes to them.
Also Bushkin should be commended for being very upfront about his own short comings. By being Carson's close confidant and being at his bekon call for many years it ruined his marital life. Bushkin had affairs with many women too and paid the consequences as time went along. Many authors of books such as this won't admit that but Bushkin was very future., I didn't expect to such as this book as much as I did, given some of the reviews that made it audio like the author made the narrative more about himself, but I really enjoyed it, found it riveting. I felt the deals and maneuvering Mister Bushkin did for his client, and generally the 'how the sausage is made' facet of a career of star of Johnny's magnitude, was fascinating. It is also telling about mid 20th century mores and culture. If if you're a Mad Men fan, you may really appreciate this book.
No, Ashton Carson doesn't come across as completely sympathetic, but the author did paint a portrait of the man of great complexity. His demons mostly seemed to be ascribed to his withholding mother, but to me that didn't describe his dark side completely.. I also learned things about Johnny Carson I actually never knew, and at the end of the book, I still needed to understand more. I would want to someday read a well written book about him, by a woman who was near to him, who could maybe elucidate more of what made him tick, by using an intimate level. A very worthwhile read of a major cultural figure.
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