Lane was given the host's chair for six weeks. He planned to base his version of the show on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Lane's run was variously referred to as "the Tonight Show", "Tonight with Don Lane" and "Sydney Tonight". Within a month, Nine settled on Lane as permanent host, and his initial six-week contract was extended to forty weeks.
Work on a coaxial cable linking Melbourne with Sydney had begun in June 1959, and was completed on 5 February 1963. On July 7 1965 Lane appeared on a then-innovative live split-screen link with Graham Kennedy via the cable.
He then returned to nightclub work in the United States, including stints at Las Vegas.
It is widely believed that Lane christened Newton Moonface. However, Newton later claims that Lane asked writer Mike McColl-Jones for Newton's childhood nickname, and McColl-Jones tipped Newton off about this; Newton and McColl-Jones then made up the nickname and McColl-Jones fed Lane the false information. In any case, the nickname stuck.
Newton took much pleasure in sending up Lane's singing, sometimes by playing his records at half-speed while miming Lane's performance. Lane sometimes responded in kind by "sending up" Newton's own record, the Bert and Patti Album.
Logie Awards were made in each state separately during the 1960s and early 70s, since it was technically difficult to broadcast live programming interstate. Don Lane performed in Sydney, while Graham Kennedy held the same timeslot in Melbourne.
National Logie awards:
Skeptic and debunker James Randi was invited onto the program to speak in rebuttal. His attempt to reproduce Geller's key-bending (by simply pressing the key against his chair) was caught by Lane, who said "I saw you bend it!", to which Randi replied "of course I did".
A heated exchange followed:
- Lane: You've come here, you're offering five thousand dollars to people to say people are fakes, you said Doris Stokes was a fake, you say Uri Geller's a fake. You came here, and you've given everybody a lot of lip service and you haven't done anything, except show us a lot of tricks that you learned out of your two-bit act that you're not working [indistinct]
- Randi: I never ...
- (audience applause)
- Randi: I never have said that Uri Geller was a fake, I have never [indistinct]
- Lane: You did so, you said he was a fake, you called him a two-bit mag..., you called him a two-bit magician, you said he was a fake, and you said he didn't ... I'm not defending Uri Geller, what I am defending is you. You come over here with this big reputation, you give us a lot of lip service about all this stuff that you're gonna prove, you go against a lady like Doris Stokes who never harmed anybody in her whole life, and you call her a charlatan and a fake, you said -
- Randi: You know a great deal about it.
- Lane: Yes, I do, you said that she was a liar on the radio, you called her a liar -
- Randi: No -
- Lane: And that woman wouldn't lie to anybody, and I don't know whether she's right or wrong, but she wouldn't lie to anybody. We're going for a commercial break and you can piss off. We'll be back with Diana Trask.
- (Lane walks off the set, sweeping the props from the small table, to audience applause)
(throughout the above, Randi is attempting to speak, but Lane talks over him)
In a podcast interview entitled "Adventures in Australia" recorded on September 18, 2006, Randi stated:
"[I] met with Don Lane in his office, with his producer, and I said, 'now, Mr Lane, I'm not here to be a clown. I'm not going to go in and do the spoon-bending thing, and the key-bending thing, and the reading-the-sealed envelope thing, as Uri Geller does. We're here to talk about Doris Stokes, I believe.' [...] I [...] went to the studio. And I got there a bit early, and I was wandering around about backstage and the prop man came over. 'Oh, Mr Randi, Mr Randi, will these spoons be sufficient?' And he showed me a collection of spoons and keys. And I said 'yes .. that appears ... they'll be just fine, thank you.' Course I knew now that Lane was trying to pull a fast one on me. And indeed that's exactly what he did.'"
The aftermath of the event led to a national and personal apology to Randi, which was televised through the Nine Network. It was evident on a 1996 episode of This is Your Life dedicated to Lane, that Lane and Randi had settled their differences. Randi made an appearance on the show wishing Lane all the best and many congratulations.
Randi's recollections of this event (recorded on September 18, 2006) are:
"I was called in to, well I think I did it via remote control here from Florida, but when they did some sort of a thing like, "Don Lane revisited" or something, they did some sort of a tribute to him.
And they called me and asked for my contribution. And my closing line, after saying that, you know, there was a misunderstanding, we had a good time after all, I said, 'oh by the way Don, and I then I gave him the two words that he'd given me' ... I had to get the dig in!"
At a Logies ceremony in the late 1990s, Lane claims to have been near the dance floor while Sigley was dancing. Lane made comments about Sigley's weight, before swinging a punch at his head. Lane claims that he intended to miss but accidentally connected, giving himself a cut hand and sending Sigley sprawling. Lane was ejected from the ceremony.