Few late-night hosts reach 1,000 episodes


It seems that 1,000 episodes for a late-night talk show host exists as a bellwether that separates the successes from the near-misses, the hits from the flops, the big time from the big bomb. With "Jimmy Kimmel Live" achieving that magic four-figure milestone, Kimmel joins some rarefied company that number perhaps a dozen hosts in the history of wee-hours television.

Heading that list is, of course, the king himself, Johnny Carson, who stuck around on "The Tonight Show" for 29 years and some 4,000 episodes. Carson's predecessors heading up "Tonight," Steve Allen and Jack Paar, never made it to 1,000 shows but are nonetheless recalled as successful pioneers who paved the way for all who followed -- Carson included.

Others who stuck around to carve out a niche in late-night talk include Arsenio Hall, Merv Griffin (though most of his success was secured during daytime syndication), Dick Cavett and Tom Snyder, with his iconic "The Tomorrow Show" and later "The Late, Late Show With Tom Snyder."

Then there are today's mainstays, namely David Letterman, Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. Between his NBC and CBS shows, Letterman could soon surpass Carson in sheer number of hosted hours, having been at this game full-time since 1982.

The flops? Well, you might recall the short-lived efforts of Joan Rivers and Chevy Chase on Fox and Pat Sajak on CBS. Or then again, maybe not. But as a Thousand-Show Man, Kimmel can legitimately hang his hat with the legends.