It was in 1982 when Norfolk was in the national spotlight as NBC aired “Johnny Goes Home.”
The primetime TV special followed Johnny Carson on a sentimental journey from Hollywood to the heartland as he shared his Nebraska roots in his hometown of Norfolk with a national audience.A special showing of that television special is planned to help kick off this summer’s Great American Comedy Festival in Norfolk when it opens on Wednesday, June 14.
“What better timing to do this than the 25th anniversary of Johnny stepping down as host of ‘The Tonight Show,’ ” said Mark Zimmerer, chairman of this year’s festival.
But there’s more planned to help mark the occasion.
The festival is sponsoring the filming of a documentary that also will be part of the opening night events. It will be shown along with “Johnny Goes Home” that evening. To do that, festival organizers need the help of Norfolkans and area residents.
The idea of the documentary is to interview and feature individuals who were part of the production crew or actual broadcast of “Johnny Goes Home.” A number of local and area residents — as well as former Northeast Nebraskans — were involved with the NBC project.
“So, if you’re one of those individuals — or if you know someone who fits the bill — the festival is encouraging you to let us know as soon as possible,” Zimmerer said.
People can contact Zimmerer at 371-4862 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We think this will be great way to revisit that 1982 television special and the people who helped make it possible,” he said.