The Chevy Chase Show
|The Chevy Chase Show|
The Chevy Chase Show title card
|Written by||Fred Wolf|
|Presented by||Chevy Chase|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||29|
|Production location(s)||The Chevy Chase Theater,|
|Running time||45–48 min|
|Production company(s)||Cornelius Productions|
|Original release||September 7 –|
October 1, 1993
Creation and pre-productionEdit
Fox originally asked country musician Dolly Parton to host a new late night program—the network's first since The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers. Parton turned the network down, and suggested Chase for the job. Chase reportedly signed a $3 million deal with Fox.
Formula and trademarksEdit
The Chevy Chase Show was one of several talk shows that various networks put on the air after Johnny Carson retired. The show premiered a week after the first Late Show with David Letterman and a week prior to the first Late Night with Conan O'Brien. In keeping with the formula Carson and David Letterman had established, the show featured a house band that Chase called the best band in the world: the Tom Scott-led MBC Orchestra (which would later be called The Hollywood Express). Chase produced the show through his company, Cornelius Productions. The show's set featured a tank with live fish (visible during interviews), basketball hoops, and shelves of toys., as well as a desk with a built-in piano.
The program's lead-in featured a clay-animated Chase stealing letters from notable Los Angeles landmarks to spell the name of his show. As the credits rolled at the end of each episode, Chase was seen shooting basketballs at an onstage backstop.
According to newspaper listings, Chase's guests during the 29-episode run included:
- Week of September 6, 1993: Goldie Hawn, Whoopi Goldberg, Jason Priestley, Harry Anderson, Martin Short, Kathleen Turner, Robert Townsend
- Week of September 13, 1993: Tom Selleck, Dennis Hopper, Anita Morris, Jennie Garth, Garrett Morris, Al Franken
- Week of September 20, 1993: Deborah Allen, Rita Rudner, Engelbert Humperdinck, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Sinbad, Janis Ian, Robert De Niro, Kenny Loggins, Dean Cain
- Week of September 27, 1993: Ron Silver, Jonathan Frakes, Sam Elliott, Pamela Anderson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Henry Rollins
- Week of October 4, 1993: Dan Aykroyd, Lauren Tom, Dave Thomas, Queen Latifah, Doug E. Doug, Bill Nye, Joe Queenan, Michael Damian, Valerie Bertinelli, Taylor Dayne
- Week of October 11, 1993: Canadian Brass, Burt Reynolds, Dan Fogelberg, Maria McKee, A Martinez, Martin Sheen, Alexandra Paul, Jim Varney
- Guests slated Monday, October 18, 1993, included Elizabeth Ashley, Don Rickles
Television critic Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the show an F late in its run in 1993. Tucker noted that "the audience that fills Hollywood's new Chevy Chase Theatre has steadily turned into the worst-behaved crowd in late-night television; they hoot and yell and cheer over whatever pitiful chatter Chase is attempting to wring out of a luckless guest." In a similarly contemporaneous review, Time panned the show: "Nervous and totally at sea, Chase tried everything, succeeded at nothing." The magazine criticized Chase for having "recycled old material shamelessly," taking pratfalls, and even pleading with the audience to stand up and dance in their seats.
Advertisers had been promised that the show would bring between five and six million viewers nightly. By contrast, the Late Show with David Letterman guaranteed fewer than four million viewers to their advertisers. The Chevy Chase Show's actual ratings were much lower, averaging fewer than three million viewers. Fewer than two million people tuned in during the show's final weeks.
Lucie Salhany, the then-chairwoman of Fox Broadcasting, announced on October 17, 1993 that the network had decided to cancel the show "in the best interests of both its affiliated stations and its star." Salhany spoke about Chase's first episodes: "He was very nervous. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing to watch it." Chase issued a statement regarding the cancellation, in which he called the talk-show format "very constraining" and promoted his upcoming film, Cops and Robbersons. Chase had never intended the show to be a long-term series, even if it had been successful, and admitted in an interview that he would "never be tied down for five years interviewing TV personalities."
Although Fox dropped the show after four weeks, it ran for a week after the cancellation announcement. The entire last week was dedicated to making light of the show's "success". Within 48 hours of the final show, workmen had already dismantled and painted over the Chevy Chase Theater's sign. The theater is now known as Nickelodeon on Sunset. Fox ran reruns of In Living Color in the former time slot of The Chevy Chase Show after the cancellation. In November 1993, Fox was in talks with Howard Stern to replace Chase's show, but the talks went nowhere. With the exceptions of talking with Stern and attempting to sign Conan O'Brien in the early 2000s, Fox has not attempted to air late-night network programming on weeknights since The Chevy Chase Show left the air.
In a 2007 interview with Time, Chase spoke of the show, saying that it was "an entirely different concept than what was pushed on me. I would never do it again. What I wanted had a whole different feel to it, much darker and more improv. But we never got there." In an A&E Biography on Chase in 2009, Chase explained that because he had signed a contract with Fox, he was obligated to do the show the way the network wanted. During an interview on Norm Macdonald Has a Show, Chase reiterated his dislike of the experience, noting that the only thing he liked about the program was interviewing Robert De Niro.
- The New York Times article: "THE MEDIA BUSINESS; Chevy Chase's Ratings Deliver Frowns at Fox".
- Entertainment Weekly article: "Err Time: Denise Richards is in good company -- look back at 10 major movie stars who flopped on TV".
- Entertainment Weekly article: "One Down".
- The New York Times article: "The Set Makes The Host"
- Entertainment Weekly article: "TV Review - Lord of the Ring (1993)".
- Time article: "Late-Night Mugging".
- The New York Times article: "Chevy Chase's Show Canceled After 6 Weeks".
- The New York Times article: "Chevy Chase's Many Rivals: Jay, Dave and the Local News".
- Read, Max (April 5, 2012). He's not Chevy, he's an (expletive): A history of Chevy Chase's horrific behavior Archived 2015-05-26 at the Wayback Machine. Gawker. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
- "Fox network courting Stern to replace Chase, insider says". Los Angeles Daily News. November 25, 1993. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
- Carter 2010, p. 28.
- Time article: "10 Questions for Chevy Chase"
- "Norm Macdonald Has a Show | Netflix Official Site". www.netflix.com. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
- TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 228. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1.
- "Breaking News - TV Guide Network's "25 Biggest TV Blunders" Special Delivers 3.3 Million Viewers". thefutoncritic.com. 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2010-03-10.