Twenty-five years ago, millions of Americans gathered around their sets to watch the launch of a show that would transform late-night TV. This show would fuse comedy and news, offering desk pieces, taped dispatches from correspondents, and interviews with political figures. It would instruct as well as entertain. Yes, a quarter-century ago, America got its first glimpse of a program that had many similarities toThe Daily Show With Jon Stewart. It was calledThe Wilton North Report. The Wilton North Re-what? Exactly.
Still, pop culture history was made that night. I was a writer on the show and forgive me for bragging, but as a late-night programming fiasco, I believe The Wilton North Report stacks up against Thicke of the Night, The Magic Hour, and The Pat Sajak Show. Technically, it was the shortest-lived late-night network show of all time. Fox even gave The Chevy Chase Show more of a chance. And yet Wilton North is worth a moment of remembrance.