Was Night Owls a Real TV Show? Is Jack Delroy Based on an Actual Late Night Host?

Late Night with the Devil,’ directed by Cameron and Colin Cairnes, is a found footage horror film that follows the events of a late-night talk show as it attempts to garner entertainment by dabbling in the paranormal one dreadful Halloween night. Despite the popularity, Jack Delroy and his Night Owls show verges on the edge of underperformance, pushing the man to unconventional methods. As a result, he invites people like psychic Christou and known paranormal skeptic Carmichael Haig as guests to dazzle the audience ratings. Nevertheless, one misstep regarding Lilly, a young girl who grew up in a cult, threatens to unleash evil agents into the studio.

Given the found footage genre of this horror film, paired with the narrative significance assigned to Jack Delroy and the Night Owls, viewers might wonder whether these intrinsic elements are related to reality.

Late Night with the Devil: Night Owls With Jack Delroy and its Real-Life Inspirations

Due to the supernaturally fictitious nature of ‘Late Night with the Devil,’ Jack Delroy and his talk show, Night Owls— the driving force behind the film’s central narrative— remain similar works of fiction. As such, neither the talk show nor its host exist in real life as they’re depicted in the film. Nevertheless, both elements still manage to sport a connection to reality through the various inspirations that went behind their cinematic conception. Most notably, Don Lane, an American personality best known for his Australian talk show career with his ‘The Don Lane Show,’ reportedly served as a crucial inspiration for the film.

The Don Lane Show// Image Credit: Stay Tuned!/YouTube

Lane was known for his fascination with the paranormal, with several practitioners— psychics, magicians, and the like— appearing on his show. In fact, the well-known ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, recognized as the real-life inspiration behind ‘The Conjuring’ films, appeared for a double episode on Lane’s show. Furthermore, the trio even undertook an investigation into some Melbourne hauntings during the ghost hunters’ appearance on the Australian show. Therefore, the film’s base premise of blending a talk show with paranormal elements holds a clear connection to ‘The Don Lane Show,’ assigning some real-life relevance to Jack and Night Owls.

Lane’s connection to the film increases with David Dastmalchian’s reported admiration for the man. Dastmalchian, who helms the film’s narrative as Jack Delroy, spoke about the same with Nerdist and said, “[But] What I loved about Don Lane was he had this genuine and sincere interest in wanting to believe elements of the supernatural. And so he would bring on people who profess to have psychic or media, mystic powers, or spoon benders or whatever. And he did so with an open mind and always wanted to give them a chance, as opposed to maybe, say, making them the butt of a joke.”

Alternatively, the general talk show culture and aesthetic of the era also held some seamless influence over Jack and his on-screen persona, allowing him to remain grounded in reality. Filmmakers Cameron and Colin Cairnes grew up in Australia during the 70s and 80s. As a result of the cultural conventions of the time, the brothers were frequent consumers of American media, including late-night talk shows. Consequently, the filmmakers were conscious about molding Jack Delroy and his show into a final product that resembled the realistic period-typical approach to 70s’ television entertainment.

The Cairnes achieved the same by scrutinizing the dialogues— especially Delroy’s opening monologue and quips— to ensure a contemporary approach to humor doesn’t bleed into the same. Colin Cairnes discussed the research and the efforts that went into the writing process in a conversation with The Hollywood Reporter. “We did kind of run the script a bit like a talk show writers’ room because we’re friendly with a lot of comics and comedy writers here in Australia,” said the filmmaker. “We asked them to come up with some gags, and one or two ended up in the film.”

Alternatively, the realistic set design for Night Owls and persona-creation for Jack Delroy’s talk show host identity also cemented their sense of realism. Real-life television from the 70s became the convenient inspiration for the same. Moreover, the creators shot the project in a studio with a 360-degree angle— essentially replicating the filming approach to a real-life talk show. Thus, as a composite of such influences and inspirations, Jack Delroy and his Night Owls show from ‘Late Night with the Devil’ retained a connection to reality despite their fictional confines.

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