Carson Entertainment

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


Carson Entertainment is the production company of Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, formed in 1980 to own and produce The Tonight Show. Prior to 1981, it was an in-credit mention at the end of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Carson Productions (Entertainment)

Logo (August 5, 1981-December 16, 1992, 2009-)

Visuals: The sequence starts out with a brightly-lit city skyline, then the outlined word "CARSON" zooms out from us to a comfortable distance, on a gray background. Three thick light-blue horizontal lines wipe in from right to left, filling the outlined "CARSON" with blue and at the same time, the word "PRODUCTIONS" wipes in the same direction in sync with the horizontal lines. The copyright stamp usually is shown:


  • 1981-1984: © CARSON PRODUCTIONS, INC. [YEAR] (Note: 1983 was in mostly lower case letters)
  • 1985-1986: © CARSON TONIGHT, INC. [YEAR] (1985 had turquoise and green variations)
  • 1987-1989: © CARSON TONIGHT INC. [YEAR]
  • 1990-1992: © CARSON TONIGHT [YEAR]

Original Variants (1981-2009):

  • Sometimes, there was no copyright stamp at all. This generally occurs on non-Tonight Show programming.
  • A "THIS PROGRAM WAS PRE-RECORDED" disclaimer is known to have appeared on versions with the 1981 and 1983 copyright stamps.
  • The copyright stamp appears to have begun to wipe in sync with the horizontal lines in 1986. Preceding that, it usually appeared after the logo finished.

Later Variant (2009-): The city background appears more animated (it's a live-action timelapse), the "CARSON" logo is in the Impact font, the background after the logo forms is much darker, and "ENTERTAINMENT" replaces "PRODUCTIONS". Beginning with the reruns of The Tonight Show as Johnny Carson on Antenna TV on January 1, 2016, this logo is followed by a copyright notice for the Johnny Carson Foundation on a background of Johnny's desk and signature coffee mug with his portrait on it.


  • Original Variant: Motion-controlled animation.
  • Later Variant: CGI and live-action.

Audio: A loud five-note bombastic horn fanfare (composed by Craig Safan) with a "WHOOSH" accompanying the wiping in of the horizontal lines and "PRODUCTIONS".

Audio Variants:

  • There is also a variation in which only the last three notes are played.
  • In the 2009 version, the audio is quality-enhanced.
  • Beginning on January 1, 2016, reruns of The Tonight Show on Antenna TV replace the music with a new trumpet driven jingle.
  • Sometimes, the end theme of the show plays over the logo.


  • Original Variant:
    • The logo was first introduced in the fall of 1981.
    • Currently seen at the end of Amen episodes on TV One and UP and on Carson's Comedy Classics on Reelz Channel.
    • It also existed at the end of TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes with the outro of the show's theme music.
    • The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is the most obvious show with this logo.
    • This logo is retained on video releases of Carson's last two shows and the 1982 special Johnny Goes Home on DVD and was also spotted on a 1986 episode posted on YouTube by Carson Entertainment Group.
    • The Late Night with David Letterman variant can be seen on VHS tapes of the show from GoodTimes Home Video.
    • It is retained on The Tonight Show repeats shown on Antenna TV, but with updated music.
    • This logo also appears on the Tubi streaming prints of Amen.
  • Later Variant:
    • It can be seen at the end of the episodes on the Tonight: 4 Decades of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson DVD box set, released in 2009.
    • It has also replaced the in-credit mention on two full episodes posted on the official Johnny Carson YouTube channel by the Carson Entertainment Group in 2013.

Carson Productions Group

Logo (1994)

Visuals: Similar to the first logo, but the animation is also much smoother and the city is brighter. However, when the text zooms out, it's instead a red outline revealing a gold background with a spotlight in the corner. The stripes are also in gold, but beveled out from the background and "CARSON" is red with a gold border. "PRODUCTIONS GROUP" can be seen below, also beveled in gold.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: None or the end theme of the show.

Availability: Seen at the end of Carson tapes released by Buena Vista Home Video.

Logo (1988)

Visuals: A full moon rises above a city at night, with black and blue gradient skies and several lights in the city (there are several light lines with the rest all over). Once the moon gets into its place, "CARSON PRODUCTIONS" (in the same style as the previous logo, except "CARSON" is a lighter blue color and "PRODUCTIONS" is in a different font and white) flies from behind the moon and rotates to the right, going towards the screen. As all this happens, the city turns into a dark gray background while the three blue stripes ease in. The company name zooms back to its familiar place.

Technique: CGI.

Audio: Just the theme to the video.

Availability: This was never used on TV shows: it was only seen on graphic designer Robert Backstrand's 1988 Demo Reel.