Johnny Carson returns to late-night — Antenna TV to air full-length episodes

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Credit: Antenna TV/Carson Entertainment Group

CHICAGO -- "Here's Johnny!"

Tribune Broadcasting today announced a multi-year agreement with Carson Entertainment Group to broadcast Johnny Carson on Antenna TV, Tribune Broadcasting's multicast network, beginning January 1, 2016.

Because NBC owns the rights to The Tonight Show, the show will be billed as “Johnny Carson.”

Antenna TV airs in 102 markets across the United States, reaching 78% of all television households. Including right here in the Tennessee Valley on WHNT2.

Antenna TV will tuck America in each weeknight, with a 60-minute classic Carson episode airing at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT, with a rebroadcast at 2 a.m. ET/11 p.m. PT.  On weekends, Antenna TV will run 90-minute episodes at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT, with a rebroadcast at 1:30 a.m.ET/10:30 p.m. PT.  This is the first time the Carson episodes will air in a strip since he went off the air in 1992.

"During his Nebraskan boyhood, Johnny Carson dreamed of becoming a world-famous magician, and few would disagree that his three decade dominance of late-night television was anything short of magical.  Along the way he pioneered the conversational presentation and generative comedic content that continues to inspire talent and entertainment programming to this very day.  Thirty years later, Carson's comedy and humor are just as relevant. We are thrilled to have acquired these programs to entertain existing fans and attract future followers," said Sean Compton, President of Strategic Programming and Acquisitions, Tribune Media.

Twenty-three years after retiring from The Tonight Show -- and a decade after his death -- Johnny Carson remains TV's most popular late-night talk show host*, the gold-standard for late-night television.  In his three decades as host, he interviewed some 25,000 guests; celebrities like David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jim Carrey; and comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Drew Carey, all of whom got their start on Carson's stage.  Antenna TV will unlock the vaults to bring viewers the most popular full-length episodes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s, which have not aired on television since, including Jackie Gleason's only appearance on the show, a joint appearance by Don Rickles and Frank Sinatra, Myrtle the Potato Chip Lady and Barney Odum and his tree-climbing dog.

"Johnny Carson was America's night light for 30 years.  The mantra of 'we'll watch the monologue and go to bed' was the norm for millions of fans.  The idea of running the show at the same time every night on Antenna TV will provide viewers with a feel for how the show was viewed originally. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to relive this wonderful piece of American history," said Jeff Sotzing, President of Carson Entertainment.

Beginning January 1, 2016, "Carnac the Magnificent," "Art Fern," "Aunt Blabby" and all of Carson's classic characters will return to late night television via Antenna TV.