EXCLUSIVE: Bob Hercules, who co-directed the Peabody-winning American Masters bio-documentary Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, is set to co-produce and co-direct Tom Who, a documentary about the career of late-night talk-show icon Tom Snyder. Preproduction kicked off this week on the project, which is being co-produced and co-directed by Snyder’s daughter Ann Marie Snyder.
The film will feature lost archival material from NBC’s Snyder-hosted The Tomorrow Show, which ran from 1973-81 after The Tonight Show and showcased Snyder informal, conversational style and drew guests from John Lennon and Barbara Walters to Steven Spielberg and Charles Manson. The show gave way to David Letterman’s Late Night which took over the time slot in 1982 (see Snyder’s final signoff below).
After Tomorrow, Snyder, who started his career in radio and was an anchor for NBC News and Los Angeles’ KNBC, became the first host of CBS’ Late, Late Show franchise, handpicked by Letterman. His run went from 1995-99 and gave the affable host yet another outlet to use his catchphrase welcoming audiences to his show: “Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.”
Snyder died of complications from leukemia in 2007 and has faded somewhat in the discussion of his importance in late-night history, which the filmmakers hope to correct.
“I am delighted to team up with Ann Marie Snyder to produce the first-ever film about her late father,” Hercules said. “Tom Snyder uncannily captured the zeitgeist of our culture (and counterculture) during the 1970s through the ‘90s. He was an uncompromising journalist and a groundbreaking talk-show host. I look forward to being part of the team to finally tell this incredibly important and wonderfully prescient story of a television legend.”
Said Snyder: “I am thrilled to have found Bob and honored to be working with someone of his caliber. The compelling story of my father deserves no less than the best possible chance to honor his work. It’s my hope that this film will remind people of a time when journalists were not the enemy and carry on the legacy my father left behind.”
Journalist-author Ray Richmond and Columbia College Chicago cinema and television arts professor Michael Niederman will co write the doc, which is being produced by Hercules’ Chicago-based Media Process Group and Tom Who Entertainment. The latter prodco is also working on a film adaptation of early Tomorrow director Joel Tator’s book Remembering Tomorrow, a behind-the-scenes look at the the show’s most controversial interviews.
Here’s Snyder’s Tomorrow signoff:
Tom Who Entertainment is repped by Donaldson Callif Perez.
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