Chevy Chase Show, The
This was not a good idea. Chevy Chase had a sky-high TVQ score, TVQ being a survey that networks subscribe to. It tracks many things but mainly how well-known someone is and how well they’re liked. At the time, Mr. Chase’s TVQ score on both counts was a lot higher than most of the names you’d have come up with if you were a Fox executive and they asked you who should host a late night show for them.
Mr. Chase was signed for a huge sum of money. The show went on the air September 7, 1993. Four weeks later, its cancellation was announced and then Chevy did one more week, most of which was spent joking about how poorly things had gone. Fox had guaranteed advertisers a tune-in of six million viewers but even the show’s first week hadn’t reached that number, coming in around three million. Before long, they were down to two. Within Fox, two reasons were usually given for the failure. One was that no one ever had an idea what would make Chevy’s version of The Tonight Show different from, say, the one Jay Leno was doing over at NBC under that name. The other reason was that Chevy was really more interested in his movie career and wasn’t especially committed to the venture. Whatever the reason, the show’s quick demise was predicted by critics from Day One.
Fox lost a lot of money. Along with what they paid Chase and the “make goods” (free commercials) they had to give to advertisers to make up for the ratings shortfall, there was the money spent to secure the Aquarius Theater on Sunset Boulevard and refurbish it into The Chevy Chase Theatre. Then five weeks later, they had to turn it back into the Aquarius. The building had once been the famous Earl Carroll Theatre, famed for its slogan, “Through these portals pass the most beautiful girls in the world.” It closed on 1948 when Mr. Carroll was killed in a plane crash and then reopened in 1953 as the Moulin Rouge. It went through many names and owners after that and in 1968 became the Aquarius when it was the home of the Los Angeles production of the tribal rock musical, Hair. Today, it’s owned by Nickelodeon that has some of its offices and production facilities on the premises.