Bob Dylan sings for David Letterman

21 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bill Murray gives David Letterman a sweet goodbye message.

In the two months since James Corden began his chat show on America’s CBS network, he has won positive reviews and a modest but appreciative audience for his cheerful mix of games, songs, sketches and fluffy celebrity interviews. Introduced as “the greatest songwriter of modern times”, Dylan performed the appropriately-titled “The Night We Called It A Day” from his latest album, Shadows in the Night.Another special treat for Letterman was musician Bob Dylan, who made his first TV appearance in more than 20 years to play on last night’s programme.When he brings down the curtain tonight ending a remarkable 33-year run, it won’t be a moment too soon, and the guessing here is that nobody knows it any better than David Letterman.Mostly, we wanted to pay our respects not because we love David Letterman, even though we do (have you seen his interview with Paris Hilton?), but because he’s made New York a great feature of his show. • A Columbia student, Emma Sulkowicz, who has been carrying her mattress around campus all year to protest the university’s handling of her sexual assault case, lugged it onstage for a graduation ceremony. [New York Times] • Federal agents said they disrupted a major heroin-importing operation in the Bronx, which may have had ties to Mexican drug cartels. [New York Times] • Some public housing residents are wary of the mayor’s new plan to raise money for the Housing Authority and its aging buildings. [New York Times] • The Peopling of America Center at the National Immigration Museum at Ellis Island opens today. 10 a.m. [$19 for ferry ticket, which provides access to Liberty and Ellis Islands] • City students from low-income neighborhoods perform alongside New York Philharmonic musicians at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center. 6 p.m. [Free] • Shake Shack reopens in Madison Square Park and unveils the ParkBurger, topped with cave-aged cheese sauce and bacon. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. [$7.09 for a ParkBurger] • A conversation about the changing identity of Washington Heights, with the writers Robert Snyder and Ray Suarez, at the Museum of the City of New York. 6:30 p.m. [$16] • Yankees at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. (YES).

Corden’s Late Late Show is broadcast at 12.30am each weekday, but is wholesome and unthreatening it could as easily be broadcast at 11 in the morning. After 33 years in late night and 22 years hosting CBS’ “Late Show,” Letterman will retire on May 20. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Alex Brandon | AP) NEW YORK (AP) — David Letterman leaves late night on Wednesday after 33 years when he retires from CBS’ “Late Show,” his TV home since 1993. No matter how much moral outrage his defenders can muster — no matter how many column inches were filled by writers who said America should like him more — Letterman is the man who couldn’t beat Jay Leno, and sometimes couldn’t beat Leno’s replacement. “He was a former weatherman and a failed morning-show host who perfected a sort of snide, irreverent attitude towards showbiz types,” Rolling Stone wrote after Letterman announced his retirement last year. “After getting noticed by Johnny Carson and making a fan out of NBC bigwig Fred Silverman, however, David Letterman found himself taking his goofy antics to a 12:30 am time slot — and thus, a late-night TV legend was born.” There was no doubt that the legend was, well, legendary. As The Preacher noted centuries ago, “To every thing there is a season,” a time to begin and a time to conclude, and Letterman’s conclusion is right on time, just before it becomes obvious to everyone that he’s getting close to mailing it in. In 1995 actress Drew Barrymore flashed the talk show host for his birthday, and in 1994 Madonna turned the air blue by swearing profusely while being interviewed.

That means sliding through the motions, doing what’s become so familiar that you end up doing it on automatic pilot, which might work in some endeavors but is clearly a drag on wit and spontaneity, his calling cards back in the day when he was young, sharp and a breath of fresh air. Letterman broke the record for the longest-serving late night chat show host in TV history in 2013, after serving 31 years on the Late Show with David Letterman He will be succeeded by The Colbert Report host Stephen Colbert. He invented the “Top 10″ list; he invented “Stupid Pet Tricks”; he poked a hole in the absurd, celebrity-fueled gas bag that was late-night television. Three months after leading the Celtics to another championship in 1969, Bill Russell stunned everyone, including team patriarch Red Auerbach, by announcing in Sports Illustrated, “I’m through with basketball.” “If I continued to play,” he wrote, “I’d become a mercenary because I’m not involved anymore.

When New Yorkers visiting their libraries were asked to submit a nomination, they were also asked to write down the name of the first library book that inspired their love of reading. Last night’s show also featured comedian Bill Murray, who was Letterman’s first guest back in 1982 and has joined him an impressive 44 times in total. That’s no way to play; that’s no way to do anything.” Letterman is not only ending a glorious chapter of his own life, but also pulling the plug on the long-established viewing habits of millions who’ve made watching him a part of their nightly routines. The 68-year-old – who retires on a reported annual salary of $20 million – has changed the face of American comedy, making it more knowing, more cynical and smarter.

Letterman has been called an inspiration by US comic heavyweights such as Jerry Seinfeld, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Jon Stewart, the writers of the Simpsons, and – in the UK – Ricky Gervais and Jonathan Ross. People admire the New York Yankees, but not because they lost to the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series. “I’m awash in melancholia,” he told the paper of tonight’s exit. “Over the weekend, I was talking to my son, and I said, ‘Harry, we’ve done like over 6,000 shows.’ And he said, [high-pitched child’s voice] ‘That’s creepy.’ And I thought, well, in a way, he’s right. If anything, he seemed drawn more to civilians, whether the proprietor of Hello Deli, the owners of the animals performing Stupid Pet Tricks or his own staff members, like stage manager Biff Henderson. It is creepy.” “It is creepy”: Not exactly the note any showman should want to go out with while comparing retirement to “a good, solid punch to the head.” Contrast this to Leno’s first act after he retired the first time: He stole back his own show from Conan O’Brien and, after his second retirement, won a Mark Twain prize and leaped back on to the stand-up comedy circuit.

Carson approved the selection of the-then moderately successful stand-up comic, David Letterman, as the host of Late Night, the programme scheduled to follow his perennial Tonight Show. Where Johnny, by 1982, had evolved into a relaxed, avuncular, elder statesman with a wry quip and a twinkle in his eye, Letterman was an anxious, secure introvert, uncomfortable in his own skin and uneasy around others. Seizing on the one thing she could talk about that might make her interesting — her recent jail time for violating probation — Letterman, grinning but relentless, posed one question after another about her time in the slammer as she grew increasingly unsettled. Instead, he joked about Amy Fisher before getting down to business. “As some of you may know,” Letterman said, “in the past year and a half, I’ve kinda been interested in doing a show earlier than the one I’m doing now.” Ever the smart aleck, he thanked CBS for its “patience,” “support” and, slyly, “generosity.” (Letterman’s three-year deal was worth $42 million.) For a while after that press conference, Letterman was riding high. When she finally tried to call a halt to his interrogation (“I don’t want to talk about it anymore”) he responded graciously, “This is where you and I are different.

Dave introduced his mother, Dorothy, to the world for the 1994 Winter Olympics, dispatching her to Lillehammer, Norway, where she interviewed first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (proposing her hubby “fix” Dave’s speeding tickets) and declined to sample reindeer meat, among her charming remotes shared with Letterman back in New York. It wouldn’t be the last time Dorothy would make a “Late Show” appearance, as Dave continued his wise policy of making Mom a member of his talent pool. Staying up late to watch him and then talk about the show the following morning became a rite of passage for nerdy American high-schoolers who could relate to Letterman’s sarcasm, and the delight he derived from stunts like strapping a camera to a roller-skating monkey and devoting much of the show to following the chimp as it scampered throughout the studio. Letterman was the protege of Johnny Carson, who ruled late night for 30 years as host of “The Tonight Show,” and he was the King of Late Night’s heir apparent, despite what NBC thought when it tapped Jay Leno instead. People just liked watching his show more than they liked watching my show.” “As Leno prepares for his final few Tonight Shows, he finds himself in a unique position: More widely watched than any of his competitors, yet widely reviled by the majority of his peers,” EW wrote last year.

Where Carson was known for lengthy segments where he interviewed senior citizens and their oddly-shaped potatoes, Letterman’s growing cult was transfixed by the host strapping himself into a suit made of Alka-Seltzer and being lowered into a tub of water, or gleefully throwing watermelons off the roof of a five-story building (Letterman was making viral videos before there was such a thing). “I didn’t know if the stupid stuff would alienate people,” he recently said. “I didn’t know if the traditional stuff would be more appealing. Carson made his preference clear forever the night of May 13, 1994: Unannounced, he strode onto “Late Show” to personally hand the Top Ten list to Dave while the studio audience went wild. And then, when I look back on it now, of course the answer is you want to do the weird thing.” Like many an introvert, Letterman made a virtue of his discomfort, turning his show business interviews into combative encounters.

Asked why it had taken so long for her to agree to do his show, Cher replied, “Because I thought you were an asshole.” Late Night was a more welcoming berth for a different kind of performer. Grouchy comic-book artist Harvey Pekar was a regular guest, as were Pee Wee Herman and Sandra Bernhard and the cult comedian and Taxi star Andy Kaufman.

And he fessed up to an extramarital affair in 2009. “I want to be the person I always thought I was and probably was pretending I was,” he told Oprah Winfrey in 2013. “I hurt a lot of people … I’m not looking to blame anybody. Dave apologized for getting serious, but, obviously heartsick, he declared, “I just need to hear myself talk for a couple of minutes,” whereupon he delivered an eight-minute confessional of grief and Midwestern plainspokenness. “There is only one requirement for any of us,” he said. “To be courageous.” Then he added, “Pretending to be courageous is just as good as the real thing.” It was courageous. “Wait till you hear what happened to me!” grinned Letterman upon his much-awaited return to “Late Show” on Feb. 21, 2000, after several weeks’ absence. As ABC 7 explained: “I was delighted by everything that happened — except you losing your job,” Letterman told O’Brien on ‘The Late Show’ in a May 2012 interview, during which both TV hosts did a mock imitation of Leno.” If Letterman wanted to use a 20-year-old feud for laughs or simply remind his audience the feud existed, such comments seemed irrelevant. They didn’t just give his new Late Show a permanent home in Broadway’s legendary Ed Sullivan Theater, they renamed it the David Letterman Theater.

Letterman told viewers a year ago it was time to step away: “I’ve spent half my life in makeup.” After Wednesday, the makeup comes off, by Dave’s choice. David Letterman didn’t just have the most watched, most discussed talk show on network TV, he did it without significantly altering or diluting his personality or content.

Drew Barrymore created the blueprint for a generation of young actresses making their Letterman debut when she blushingly declared her love for him, mounted his desk and flashed him. “I can’t thank you enough for that,” was his solemn response. But, perhaps because he found favour with Middle America, while Letterman’s fan base was mainly concentrated on the East and West Coasts, Leno became the winner of the late night wars. Letterman was, at times, openly bored and his lack of interest in conducting yet another celebrity interview was obvious. (The mutual dislike between Letterman and Jennifer Aniston was painful to behold. And we had to behold it on several occasions.) Over the next decades, he would survive a stalker who continually invaded his home, a quintuple bypass and an attempt to extort him by a boyfriend of a former intern with whom he had been sleeping (Letterman addressed the incident on his show). Occupying permanent second-place to Jay Leno – who he affectionately referred to as Big Jaw – seemed to no longer plague him. “All I have to do, really, is pick out a tie and sit down,” he once said of his job.

At the conclusion of Joaquin Phoenix’s infamous 2009 interview conducted in character as a rambling, bearded enigma, Letterman said, “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.” And now, at 68, he’s walking away from the desk. Over the past few weeks, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Adam Sandler, Tom Hanks and many more lined up to pay their respects. Stand-up comic Norm Macdonald, famous for his bone-dry delivery, openly wept at the end of his appearance last week, telling the equally affection-shy Letterman, “I love you”.

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