Famous guests reflect on Letterman

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

David Letterman countdown: Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Keith Olbermann sing praises; CNN special pays tribute.

Wednesday night , on the last of more than 6,000 shows on NBC and CBS — that’s two-thirds of a year on the air — David Letterman takes the stage and, for the last time as a late-night host, exposes that gap-toothed grin. Before the audience files into the Ed Sullivan Theater, we want to give Dave a sustained standing ovation for 35 years of entertainment, co-starring New York City. The proclamation issued Tuesday notes Letterman graduated from Broad Ripple High School and Ball State University in nearby Muncie, worked as a local television weatherman and is a co-owner of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing IndyCar team.

Staab/CBS) It’s hard to believe, but there are only two more episodes of “Late Show with David Letterman.” Tonight, Dave welcomes Bill Murray, who has been a traditional first guest for Letterman shows, and Bob Dylan. Letterman’s preternatural rapport with the city, dating back to his short-lived NBC morning show in 1980, has been even more innate to his appeal than his perfect partnership with Paul Shaffer .

His time on late night was marked by the inane (a skateboarding dog), the heartfelt (the birth of his son), and the headline-making (that apology to his wife Regina Lasko, after admitting to affairs with female staffers). CBS is billing this final episode as “an hour filled with surprises, memorable highlights, the show’s final Top Ten List, and more.” Pictured: Oprah Winfrey with Letterman. It wasn’t just that he embraced and showcased the sidewalks and streets in all their gritty glory, but how: with a bemused exuberance, and the same kind of I-don’t-quite-understand-you-but-I-just-can’t-quit-you love that comes to afflict all New Yorkers, native and adopted.

Which is this reality show about, 1 or 2? 1) Seamen talk about the good times they’ve had while swabbing the decks of boats — and the challenging times, too, such as that night when the crew all got sick while on deck. 2) A “Who’s Your Daddy” truck cruises New York providing people with DNA tests. All right, carrying on: As his “Late Show” retirement draws near, Letterman is being saluted by other late-night TV hosts, as well as frequent guests. Few know him off the set — and one of those is former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, who says “no one was more attentive” when he was diagnosed with cancer. “He would call regularly. In the studio, there were Biff and Tony Mendez and other staffers, and beyond it, Rupert Jee, and Mujibur and Sirajul, and Calvert DeForest and his alter ego Larry (Bud) Melman. There were Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg making frequent fools of themselves. (Bill de Blasio, having not yet appeared, has one night left in which to pay his respects.) Even the background of Letterman’s set was a collection of New York landmarks — the iconic pieces of the skyline mixed with much humbler stuff: an elevated train, the long-neglected, pedestrian-only High Bridge (near and dear to this page).

Wednesday on CBS/6.) On Monday night’s “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the host — who so often comes off as an overgrown kid, heaping praise on anybody who appears — was articulate and sincere as he saluted Letterman. They are in awe of his ability night after night after night to go out and do that with perfect timing, great intelligence, and a perfect common touch.” In 1992, Johnny Carson retired, and instead of replacing him with Letterman, NBC hired Jay Leno. CBS snapped him up — and. with David Dinkins making a key assist, he stayed home, as did his old show, decisively moving late night’s center of gravity back East. Letterman ditched his sneakers and slacks for suits, but his humor remained just as irreverent. “He was cooler and fresher and newer and better,” says Jack Black. “Carson was awesome. He lifted all of our spirits, and he said to me — I’ll never forget — ‘Do not confuse cancellation with failure.’ And I thank him for all the amazing years of television and for that wonderful piece of advice.” Keith Olbermann, a frequent guest on Letterman’s show, has written a tribute that’s posted today on the Deadline.com site.

Olbermann contrasts Dave with his fellow late-night hosts, Jay Leno and Craig Ferguson. “Craig would have said hello to you three times and hugged you twice by the time you came out onstage, which was warm and lovely. Jay would come in to your dressing room and sit on the couch and talk to you for half an hour, which was also very generous (and entertaining; a producer once literally pulled him out of my room). I owe him a lot of debt that I’ll never repay because I know I’ll never see him off camera.” In one of Letterman’s most notable moments, he was flashed (and flummoxed) by Drew Barrymore in 1995; she jumped on his desk, did a dance, and flipped up her blue top. “Oh my god,” said a stunned Letterman. “It always struck me as what a serious guy he was,” Barrymore says. “However, when I had the crazy notion to dance on that man’s desk … he had a great sense of humor.

He let everyone know it was OK to let it be joyous and silly and fun.” “There’s an energy in New York that show has, that I’ve never felt on any other talk show,” says Seinfeld. “It’s an iconic experience. Olbermann was the last-minute replacement guest, and he recounts how, during the show, Letterman and his staff discovered that McCain wasn’t en route to D.C., but doing an interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News.

And then the startled humor of ‘can you believe this is happening now'” turned into poison blowpipe darts.” CNN is also honoring Letterman, with the Tuesday night special report, “David Letterman Says Goodnight,” an hour-long celebration hosted by Jake Tapper, and featuring guests such as Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Myers, Conan O’Brien and more. If he’s comfortable with you, between commercials, he’ll chat a little bit.” In 2009, Letterman revealed that he had slept with female staffers, and was the target of an extortion plot. I threw you in a tough spot, you did great and were so cool about it.’ He didn’t have to do that.” Letterman was particular and passionate about his musical guests — hand-picking bands and singers. In 2008, Adele effectively launched her stratospheric U.S. career. “We’ve played that show I don’t even know how many times,” says Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. “But over the years, he’s been so friendly and kind to us that we started exchanging gifts.

During commercials, he’s just jamming to the music.” When she appeared after apologizing in an Entertainment Weekly interview for being critical, “He held up the magazine. Stop apologizing.’ I loved him so much for getting it that it had gone to an extreme that was absurd.” “He was the first talk show I’d ever gone on,” says actor Jake Gyllenhaal. “It was like being thrown in the deep end. I love that kind of challenge.” Letterman follows only the loosest format when interviewing celebrity guests, who on other shows are prepped for every question or comment.

Even when it comes to children — as happened to Dakota Fanning in 2003. “We were talking about how much I wanted a dog,” Fanning says. “For a split second, somewhere deep in my mind, I wondered if a dog was going to come out. When actress Blake Lively shimmied onto set in 2012, the host displayed his ever-present appreciation of a pretty face. “You look like a billion dollars,” he told her. “He was my first crush. He’s such a flirt, if you wear a good pair of high heels.” After Letterman announced his retirement on April 2, 2014, during a taping of his show,names were floated as possible replacements. Jon Stewart was among them, although the job went to Stephen Colbert, who starts in September. “I don’t know him that well,” Stewart says. “I view Letterman as a different animal, an untouchable, the way you view a sports hero.

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