Despite the enthusiasm for him around NBC, Chase does not see himself as a star.
"The show's not in prime time—it wouldn't be allowed under any network standards. They wouldn't give us nearly the freedom to do what we're doing now. So it's like playing at the top of the minors. People don't really know who I am."
But they'll find out.
"Obviously he has a shot at bigger things," Lorne Michaels says. "The question is—does Chevy want it?"
Right now, Chevy wants something more elusive than stardom.
"Sleep," he says wearily. "Right now we're all nervous wrecks. It's a twenty-hour-a-day pace, writing until 6 A.M. every morning. I don't think I got ten hours' sleep the week we did our last show—none of us did."
And then? "I'd never be tied down for five years interviewing TV personalities," says Chase, "but I'd much rather do a 'Carson' than a 'Baretta.' I'll always work as a writer, and ultimately I want to write and produce. If I can build as a performer, fine. I don't care what I do as long as I can have control to expose the sham of so much of TV. This is still a medium that exists to sell products, not to supply hard-hitting entertainment."
True enough. But right now Chevy Chase seems to be stumbling and falling head first into the network spotlight. It is a testament to television's power that after half a dozen appearances on a late-night show, he is the heir apparent to Johnny Carson.