Come on, admit it — we all instantly thought, "who the heck should play Johnny Carson on that NBC miniseries?" the minute it was announced earlier Thursday. OK, perhaps "we" all didn't but "I" certainly did. Based on "Carson the Magnificent" by Bill Zehmne, it will be good — or should be good, or has to be good.
With those criteria in mind, NBC has to get the best actor available. Ben Affleck? Nevermind.
Here's my list (with an assist from my editor, Andy Edelstein, who came up with Walter White, err, Bryan Cranston .?.?.)
[By the way, I'm getting a few "Greg Kinnear" suggestions in the comments section - to which I say, Bravo, readers. He's pretty near perfect too. Plus, wait until you see him in "Rake," Fox's new midseason entry. Guy can act...so, let's just go ahead and add "Kinnear" to this list too.]
- Justin Timberlake: His name immediately surfaced in a Hollywood Reporter list, and there is a "duh, of course" quality to this. Big star, multitalented, and can act. But does he look like JC? Ummm .?.?.
— Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Boyish Carsonian good looks, plenty of sex appeal, wonderful actor, and could nail a Carson portrayal without thinking. Best of all, right look. He's also the right age (31) to capture Johnny long before he became the most famous late night host in history (this bio is supposed to cover his full career.)
- Dana Carvey: Everyone instantly thinks of Carvey, for good reason. He does Carson very well. Downside — NBC doesn't want or need this to be schticky either. His Carson impression was almost TOO indelible. But this would be a great comeback for the talented Carvey.
-Kevin Spacey: Did a killer Carson impression on "Late Show with David Letterman" in February, but he'd have to work on the look.
— Bryan Cranston: Can capture some of that coiled (and well-hidden) Carson angst, much as he did with Walter White. Naturally, he would have to have a full head of hair..
- Neil Patrick Harris: That's it. I'm done. Search over. He would perfect. Great talent, right look to match Carson's without parodying it. NPH is even an experienced magician — as was Johnny.
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