The Chevy Chase Show

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The Chevy Chase Show
Thechevychaseshow-titlecard.jpg
The Chevy Chase Show title card
Format Talk Show
Developed by Cornelius Productions
Written by Fred Wolf
Presented by Chevy Chase
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 25
Production
Location(s) The Chevy Chase Theater,
Hollywood, California
Running time 45-48 min
Broadcast
Original channel Fox
Original run September 7, 1993 (1993-09-07) – October 1, 1993 (1993-10-01)

The Chevy Chase Show was an American late night talk show hosted by actor, comedian and Saturday Night Live alumnus Chevy Chase that aired in 1993 on Fox. The series was canceled after just five weeks on the air.

History[edit]

Creation and pre-production[edit]

Fox originally asked country musician Dolly Parton to host a new late night program—the network's first since 1987's ill-fated The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers.[1] Parton turned the network down, and suggested Chase for the job.[2] Chase reportedly signed a $3 million deal with Fox.[3]

Just days before the show's premiere, the name of the venue where the show was recorded was changed from the Aquarius Theater to the Chevy Chase Theater, and Fox spent $1 million in renovations.[3]

Formula and trademarks[edit]

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.[4]

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.

Reviews[edit]

Television critic Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the show an F letter grade.[5] 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."[5] Time panned the show: "Nervous and totally at sea, Chase tried everything, succeeded at nothing."[6] 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.[6]

Cancellation[edit]

Advertisers had been promised that the show would bring between five and six million viewers nightly.[7][8] By contrast, the Late Show with David Letterman guaranteed fewer than four million viewers to their advertisers.[8] The Chevy Chase Show's actual ratings were much lower, averaging fewer than three million viewers.[7] Fewer than two million people tuned in during the show's final weeks.[7]

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."[7] Salhany spoke about Chase's first episodes: "He was very nervous. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing to watch it."[1][7] 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.[7] 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."[9]

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.[3] 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 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."[10] In a A&E Biography on Chase in 2009, Chase explained that because he had already signed a contract for Fox, he was obligated to do the show the way the network wanted.

To date, Fox has not attempted to air late-night network programming on weeknights since The Chevy Chase Show left the air.

In 2002 TV Guide ranked the show number 16 on its TV Guide's 50 Worst TV Shows of All Time list.[11]

In 2010, TV Guide Network listed the show at #16 on their list of 25 Biggest TV Blunders alongside The Megan Mullally Show.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]