Letterman, Leno and the battle over the Tonight Show. On May 22 1992, Johnny Carson retired as host of the most successful television program in history, The Tonight Show. He was the all time undisputed "King of Late Night", and his retirement triggered a mad scramble to find a replacement. For more than two years it captivated every network, the American media and the public, exposing the inner workings of network TV as two comedians battled it out for the late night throne. Academy award winner Kathy Bates is the tougher than nails manager who will stop at nothing to secure her client, Jay Leno, Johnny's vacated seat, having been his fill-in host. Also eyeing the million-dollar chair is David Letterman, the successful host of Late Night With David Letterman. And standing in the wings trying to snatch one of them away from NBC is CBS, who throw fuel on the fire with an offer of more millions, upping the ante and touching off the network battle of the century.