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HBO'S 'LATE SHIFT' GETS EARLY PREVIEW.

Byline: Ray Richmond

Satellite television viewers who were tuned to the HBO auxiliary channel known as HBO-3 early last Thursday and Friday morning received a big surprise: an unscheduled and very much unpublicized sneak preview of the forthcoming HBO film "The Late Shift."

"The Late Shift" is the much-anticipated film adaptation of the 1994 book by New York Times television writer Bill Carter that detailed the behind-the-scenes power brokering that led to Jay Leno remaining in place as host of NBC's "The Tonight Show" - and David Letterman defecting to CBS.

The movie isn't scheduled to premiere on HBO until Feb. 24. Yet anyone who was tuned to HBO-3 - available primarily to satellite dish owners as well as a smattering of cable subscribers - at 3 a.m. Thursday and 4 a.m. Friday of last week saw a rough cut of the film nearly two months early.

An unnamed HBO executive denied, in an interview with the Washington Post, that the early broadcast was coordinated to allow "The Late Shift" to qualify for next year's Emmy Awards.

"Occasionally, to fill in the schedule, we will run something like this, "the spokesman said.

It was also being speculated, however, that HBO needed to broadcast "The Late Shift" before the year was up in order to use its production costs as a 1995 tax write-off.An HBO spokesman earlier appeared to confirm that money was behind the strange move to sneak "The Late Shift" on in the wee hours on an alternate national feed during late December, telling the Post that the motivation was "bookkeeping."

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Photo (1) Talk-show host Montel Williams crosses over to drama as a Navy veteran who becomes a science teacher in "Matt Waters." (2) Gabrielle Carteris graduated from "Beverly Hills, 90210" to her own talk show, "Gabrielle," which has just been canceled by Twentieth Television. David Sprague/Daily News Box WEEKEND MOVIE MONEYMAKERS (Box Office)
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 3, 1996
Words:323
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