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ABC: Before Jimmy Kimmel, there was Dick Cavett
Before Jimmy Kimmel moves to 11:35 this January on ABC where pundits have already declared he will "Change the Face of Late Night Forever," l wanted to take a quick look back at another ABC late night star who already changed late night, and changed it very much for the better: Dick Cavett.
(And before Cavett was Long Beach's own Les Crane, whose ABC late nighter was the first network show to go after "The Tonight Show;" and "The Joey Bishop Show," which aired just a year before "Cavett." Its chief claim to fame: sidekick Regis Philbin.)
Check out these clips from the forthcoming third season of "Pioneers of Television" on PBS. Cavett's section will air sometime next year. His late-night ABC show actually had a pair of runs — briefly, in 1986, while the groundbreaking run was from 1968 to 1974, when it was finally axed for who-knows-what-reason. As a host of various talk show iterations (most successfully on PBS), viewers certainly came to know all of Cavett's many attributes: A keen intelligence, urbanity, wit and a quality that's particularly hard to define, but I suppose the word "comfortable" hints at it. Check out the Bill Cosby encounter below . . .
In the clip below, Cavet talks about how his ABC late nighter was damaged by a mismanaged Nielsen count; in this one, he notes how he landed on Richard Nixon's enemies' list in part because he had guests on who had criticized the "SST" — the supersonic transport that Nixon had championed. (Nixon had other issues too, not noted here, including a debate over the Vietnam War between veterans John Kerry and Nixon supporter John O'Neill.)