It's Cavett vs. Carson in late-night TV reruns

Do not adjust your rabbit ears, late-night TV viewers. Four decades after their talk shows last went head to head, Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson are once again competing on the small screen — in nightly reruns.

Decades, the digital TV network owned by Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting and CBS Television Stations, is bringing back full episodes of "The Dick Cavett Show" on weeknights beginning Feb. 1.

Tribune Broadcasting's Antenna TV began airing episodes of "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" earlier this month.

Cavett's nightly talk show debuted in 1969 on ABC, ending its run five years later after failing to dethrone late-night king Carson. Cavett's show later found new homes on PBS, then CNBC, airing through 1996.

Decades will air episodes spanning the full quarter century of Cavett's broadcasts. In Chicago, the show will run weeknights on the digital subchannel of CBS-owned WBBM-Ch. 2 and on Comcast channel 338. The first week's episodes include a 1993 appearance by Harold Ramis, discussing the opening of the movie "Groundhog Day." A Chicago native and comedy writer-director, Ramis died in 2014.

"This is very good news to me," Cavett said in a statement. "I'm thrilled. And it'll be delightful for all those people who constantly ask me, 'Is there any way we can ever see those shows again?' Now they can."

More than 23 years after Johnny Carson retired from "The Tonight Show" and a decade after his death, Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting is airing classic full-length episodes from the 1970s, '80s and '90s on Antenna, its national digital network. In Chicago, the show runs weeknights at 10 on WGN-TV's digital subchannel and on Comcast channel 353.

rchannick@tribpub.com

Twitter @RobertChannick

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