Letterman is leaving a lasting legacy

20 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

‘Late Show’ host David Letterman is the longest serving late night talk show host in television history. 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 . 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. Letterman, 68, was master of the acerbic interview: Probing entertainers and politicians alike, he was neither sycophantic, predictable nor encumbered by the late-night tradition of softball questions. 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. Which is why, says frequent guest Olivia Wilde, “He doesn’t seem to be working for a network.” After a decade on NBC’s Late Night, he lost out to Jay Leno in the battle to replace Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show in 1992, and promptly bolted for CBS.

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). But arguably it was Letterman who — with his combination of the absurd and the edgy — owned late night, if not in popularity than in cultural impact. His departure comes at a turbulent time for late night, with Jon Stewart leaving the Daily Show in August, and Stephen Colbert taking over for Letterman in September. “I look at the world as two guys: Johnny Carson and David Letterman. 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.

He was the conscience of America, he was a bit of a social commentator, he was our local curmudgeon.” Before the now-ubiquitous celebrity viral videos, Letterman set the standard for late-night gab. 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. He let Crispin Glover wallow in his agitated weirdness, and grilled Paris Hilton about her time behind bars, unfazed by her reluctance. “See, this is where you and I are different. 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). When I started going on in 2006, for all I knew he was actually built into the desk like Captain Pike from the Star Trek pilot and they threw a tarp over him after the show was over.” But, over time, Olbermann says, Letterman let down his guard, talking to him during the commercial breaks about “my dad when he was in the hospital, and we talked about his mom, and we talked about our respective cases of shingles — all the stuff Dave supposedly never talks to anybody about.” Olbermann also lavishes praise on how Letterman handled the show in 2008 when then-presidential candidate John McCain did a short-notice cancellation, supposedly to return to Washington, D.C., in response to the economic crisis. 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. Sometimes he’d briefly chat during commercial breaks, or he’d sway to the beats played by musical director and sidekick Paul Shaffer, or simply leave the set. 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.

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