The Chevy Chase Show
|The Chevy Chase Show|
The Chevy Chase Show title card
|Developed by||Cornelius Productions|
|Written by||Fred Wolf|
|Presented by||Chevy Chase|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||25|
|Location(s)||The Chevy Chase Theater,
|Running time||45-48 min|
|Original release||September 7– October 1, 1993|
Creation and pre-production
Fox originally asked country musician Dolly Parton to host a new late night program—the network's first since 1987's 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.
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.
Formula and trademarks
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.
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.
Television critic Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly gave the show an F. 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." 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 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.
To date, Fox has not attempted to air late-night network programming on weeknights since The Chevy Chase Show left the air.
- 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. Gawker. Retrieved July 22, 2014.
- Time article: "10 Questions for Chevy Chase"
- 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.