LOS ANGELES–The Chevy Chase Show is steamrolling into its sixth blockbuster season in an alternate universe, it was reported Tuesday.
According to sources, the late-night talk show, which ran for five disastrous weeks in the fall of 1993 in this universe, earned critical acclaim and a small but devoted cult following during its first season in the alternate realm. The program then steadily grew more popular through word of mouth, becoming the highest-rated talk show on TV by its third season, when Chase was proclaimed "The King Of Late Night" in a Time magazine cover story.
The Chevy Chase Show will celebrate its five years on the air–during which it has won 11 Emmys and two Peabodys–with a star-studded two-hour prime-time special on Fox this Friday at 9 p.m. EST, immediately following The Wilton North Report.
The prime-time special will feature highlights from the past five seasons, from the historic first episode featuring Oscar-winning box-office queen Goldie Hawn to President Clinton's surprise walk-on appearance last year. Clips from the show's wildly popular recurring comedy segments, including "Ask Dr. Chase" and "Chevy Tries On Funny Hats," will also be featured, as will a montage of Chase's serenades to guests on his desk-mounted keyboard.
The show's sixth season kicks off Sept. 7, with a redesigned set featuring a larger fishtank, more sound-effect buttons on Chase's desk, and a supercharged horn section for the show's band, The Hollywood Express.
Chase will still do his popular "News Update" at the show's midpoint, 11:30 p.m. EST, the time at which The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Show With David Letterman used to start before their alternate-universe cancellations in 1993.
"Our strategy of having Chevy do the news just as Dave and Jay were coming on the air worked to perfection," Chevy Chase Show executive producer Marty Sachs said. "Nobody wanted to change channels, and, within a matter of weeks, The Tonight Show and Late Show were history."
For all the success, The Chevy Chase Show was nearly derailed earlier this month when Tom Scott, Chase's bandleader and second banana, held out for $2.5 million for the 1998-99 season. That salary dispute, as well as one with head writer Michael O'Donoghue, was resolved last week.
In a press conference held at the Chevy Chase Theater, one of alternate-universe Los Angeles' hottest tourist landmarks, a smiling Chase told reporters: "I want to thank the critics and the American viewing public for their extraordinary support of The Chevy Chase Show. But, as wonderful as all that has been, what I'm most happy about is just having the opportunity to work with this incredible creative team. I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
Chase then stared blankly into the television cameras while sweating and twitching nervously, the gesture that has become his much-loved trademark over the past five years.
"Chevy is a god," said Peter Scolari, comic actor and alternate-universe star of Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan. "He's everything I aspire to be in this business."