Eddie Vedder says goodbye to David Letterman

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

David Letterman on retirement: It’s time, but he’s torn.

You don’t think of David Letterman as a stop-and-smell-the-flowers type, but here he is, at a major turning point yet savouring his chocolate milkshake.

The king of late-night American television, David Letterman, broadcasts his final show on Wednesday, ending a 33-year run of unpredictable, caustic comedy that set him apart.As David Letterman’s tenure on late-night television enters its final hours, a cluster of celebs — including Tina Fey, Steve Martin and Tom Hanks — have stopped by to say adieu.Gathered with her colleagues for one of the last times in the offices of the Ed Sullivan Theater, Jude Brennan, an executive producer at CBS’s “Late Show With David Letterman,” was reflecting on how she started working for the host some 35 years ago.

The longest-serving nighttime talk show host in US TV, with more than 6,000 shows to his name, 68-year-old Letterman has been honoured with tributes in US media, and by a host of celebrities. And he did it with real style, giving Letterman a rocking send off with “Better Man,” a hit from the Seattle rockers’ great 1994 album Vitalogy. Monday night saw Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam pay tribute to Letterman with a rendition of the band’s well-known song “Better Man.” “That’s Paul at the piano,” Vedder said, introducing longtime Letterman partner-in-crime Paul Schaffer. Tom Hanks and the musician Eddie Vedder were scheduled for Monday; followed by Bill Murray and Bob Dylan on Tuesday before the grand finale on Wednesday. “I’m naked and afraid,” Letterman told CBS on Sunday, half seriously, half joking. “Any enormous uprooting change in my life has petrified me,” he said.

Vedder, who teamed up with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra for his performance, rocked out some windmill chords and hammered his axe so hard he snapped a string. But once through the other side “the reward has been unimaginable.” Letterman got his first comedy show on NBC in 1982, before defecting to CBS in 1993 to host the Late Show after the biggest disappointment of his career — losing out to Jay Leno as host of the Tonight show.

Letterman’s final show is Wednesday; it’s been described as “an hour filled with surprises” and there’ll be a final Top Ten, though the music guest is a mystery. Letterman on his short-lived NBC morning show, on NBC’s “Late Night” and now on “Late Show,” explained that this kind of devotion was its own special calling. The pretense was that hosts invited the audience to a nightly party with selected “guests” who would let their hair down, reveal a bit of themselves, tell a story and usually promote a project.

Norah Jones sang Don’t Know Why and everyone got misty. “I wish tonight’s show had been the last show,” says Letterman. “Tonight should have been the last show. Letterman brings down the curtain on his final “Late Show” broadcast, it is not just his own 33-year history in late-night television that is coming to a conclusion.

I don’t know what we’re gonna do for the next two weeks.” It isn’t hard to detect, or understand, the simmering ambivalence in Dave’s decision to take his leave after 33 years in late night and 22 years hosting CBS’ Late Show, on May 20. Then again, “a true pun,” by one definition, “usually plays on the homophonic similarities between two different words or exploits the ambiguities of meaning in words that may appear or sound exactly the same.” Vedder didn’t exactly do that, as he didn’t use the words “Letterman” and “Better Man” in a sentence — at least not in performance clips available online after the show. These dedicated veterans have built their careers – and grown into full-fledged adults, and raised children – all while working for one enigmatic if intensely loyal entertainer. After the horror of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Letterman was the first comedian to go back on air — six days after the Al-Qaida hijackings that killed around 3,000 people.

Long-time hosts, who convened the party, brought their individual brand to the event: gabby intimacy (Jack Paar), conversational ease and an aw-shucks manner (Johnny Carson), relentless inoffensiveness (Jay Leno). Letterman has carved a place in cultural history with his pioneering brand of postmodern silliness that collared Late Show fans on his arrival in 1982 and subsequently was absorbed into the Age of Irony he played a major role in charting.

Today a new generation at ease with social media — never embraced by Letterman — dominates the airwaves: Jimmy Fallon, 40, who replaced Leno; Jimmy Kimmel, 47, on ABC, Seth Myers, 41, on NBC at 12.35am. Dave’s door-to-door romps through the New Jersey suburbs were the inspiration for the well-intentioned mischief-making of my teenage pals and I in the late ’90s. Letterman who announced his intention to retire last year, will be replaced from September 8 by Stephen Colbert, 51, who until last December hosted the Colbert Report. “I’m 68.

We swarmed the streets of suburban San Diego County armed with clunky camcorders and clipboards filled with provocative questions to ask random people on the street, helpless pharmacists stuck behind counters, and perplexed purveyors of tuxedo shops. He swiftly raises his deflector shield. “The real credit goes to the writers,” he insists. “It was their show that I was doing, especially early on. Asked to summarize the decades-long experience she and her colleagues have shared, Barbara Gaines, another executive producer, said tentatively: “Crazy people find each other?” She said she was originally hired as a receptionist, by an associate producer who thought her typing “sounded fast.” After the morning show was canceled, Ms. And then I got to a point I knew how to do what they were wanting me to do. “God, it’s been 6,000 shows!” he says. “I used to have these conversations with [wife] Regina: ‘How much longer can I do this?

We serenaded the late-night cooks at a dingy taco shop with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” We were silly and sarcastic and drunk on the fun of it all (without actually being drunk, I might add). Letterman, who did not understand why she had not come with him to “Late Night.” “He said, ‘Hey, how come you’re not working on the new show?’ ” she recalled. “And I said, ‘How come I’m not working on the new show?’ ” Mr. I know why I shouldn’t be doing it anymore, but these last few months have been soooo easy.” Letterman’s life was anything but easy in October 2009, when an extortion plot compelled him to acknowledge on the air that he had been sexually involved with women on his staff. And then he left, and I suddenly was surrounded by the Jimmys.” Married to long-time companion Regina and the father of 11-year-old Harry, he says he has nothing lined up for retirement, which he has compared to a “punch to the head.” “For the first time since Harry’s been alive, our summer schedule will not be dictated by me. It will be entirely dictated by what my son wants to do,” he told the Times. “After you take a good, solid punch to the head, you’re just a little wobbly.

Letterman, he recalled, “The last thing I said to him was, ‘I hear your softball team needs a center fielder.’ And he says, ‘We need everything.’ I got hired the next day.” Matt Roberts, now the “Late Show” head writer, started in 1992 as an intern, when his duties included having to run around the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in search of the popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher, for his booking that evening. (After a fruitless hour, Mr. When it comes to career, I’m a somewhat serious person who has always wanted to “make a difference” — and that’s something I knew even as a teenaged Letterman super fan.

Letterman deal with his highly publicized transition to CBS after losing out on NBC’s “Tonight” show; with marriage and fatherhood; with quintuple bypass heart surgery; and with a sex scandal, involving other staff members, that could have cost him his job. Over the last decade, I’ve worked in politics (on the ill-fated Howard Dean campaign in 2004), journalism (at several newspapers around the country), and the law. They have also watched him evolve from a performer known for innovative and unpredictable comedy bits to a more contemplative monologuist and interviewer. “It’s microscopic course corrections, day by day, until you look up and go ‘Wow, things have really changed,’ ” said Rob Burnett, who, since 1985, has been an intern, head writer and executive producer for Mr. Dave inspired countless stand-ups and comic performers. (For the most moving tribute, fast-forward to the six-minute mark of Norm Macdonald’s appearance on Friday’s Late Show.) Dave also endeared millions upon millions of non-comedian Americans, across geography and generations, who chuckled along with him, first on NBC’s Late Night, then on CBS’s Late Show. It’s not like heart surgery: ‘Could I get a little more morphine?’” “If you see how wound up I am,” he says, “it’s because of the show tonight: Cher, Marty Short, Norah Jones!

When he would introduce Bob Hope, and Chris Elliott would pop his head up from a hole under the seats, conversing as if he were Hope, or when he had the less-than-cogent Larry “Bud” Melman regularly perform announcing chores, or when, in his later CBS incarnation, he visited with the nearby souvenir-shop owners, Mujibur and Sirajul, he was taking dead aim on every puffed-up celebrity who had ever sat in a talk show seat. I was always awed not only by Dave’s razor-sharp wit and bowl-you-over intellect, but by his Indiana kindness and ability to find what is beautiful and great and hilarious in a camera-shy stage manager or stiff-talking deli owner. I haven’t had to answer that question for 33 years.” Tellingly, no one interviewed for this article knew what his or her next job after “Late Show” would be. (Mr. Young said that whatever he did next, “I would be a little reluctant to go into another five-day-a-week, office-setting-type job, at least right away.” “I’ll try 20 things, hope one or two stick, and that will start me off somewhere,” he said. One of his most memorable routines was the simple act of going to a store named “Just Bulbs” and peppering the salesman with requests for something other than light bulbs.

Or going into various dry cleaners, restaurants or even garages that displayed old autographed celebrity photos on the wall and asking about the encounters with those famous people. She added that she could not completely predict how she would react when something that has been so central to her life is suddenly absent, and she had trouble envisioning what she would do next. “I keep trying to imagine what it’s going to be like when that last show is actually over,” Ms. As he exits the stage, I’m left with that autographed photo packed up somewhere with my videotapes and Late Show jacket, along with my memory of Dave and lingering on the sidewalk until his car disappeared into the city.

You say goodbye to that laser vision of his that saw through the whole enterprise of late night TV while everyone else was, and is, busy deflecting our attention from the absurdity.

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