David Letterman is well known for shunning public events like CBS’ upfront. But in the midst of big late-night changes at NBC and ABC, the veteran late-night host showed up at the CBS presentation for the first time in 15 years. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves broached the subject. “What’s going on out there in late-night? All of a sudden, everybody’s got a Jimmy: they have a Jimmy, they have a Jimmy,” referring to NBC’s and ABC’s new 11:30 PM hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, respectively. “We thought we don’t have a Jimmy. Jimmy Buffet is too tropical, Jimmy Carter too political, Jimmy Hoffa not available. There are a lot of Jimmys out there but there is only one Dave, David Letterman.” Letterman walked out to a thunderous applause and engaged in a looong hug with Moonves. “I’m honored to be here for your pledge drive,” Letterman quipped, proceeding to make fun of CBS head of sales Joanne Ross’ projection dress. “Everyone here is very excited to see me, they think I’m Bob Schieffer. When Leslie invited me here, I thought I was being fired.”
Two decades after the Jay Leno-David Letterman battle for The Tonight Show, the Tonight Show curse has struck again with yet another messy host transition. In 1992, NBC had two hot young comedians eager to replace longtime Tonight host Johnny Carson, Leno and Letterman. The network chose Leno and created a formidable late-night rival in Letterman, who defected to CBS to launch The Late Show. Leno and Letterman had been going at each other ever since, looking to outrate and outlast each other. Letterman had the upper hand in the ratings early on before Leno took the lead, holding onto it for the most of the past 17 years. The two even have been timing their contracts to end at the same time. They did it again this time, with Leno’s deal up in September 2014 and Letterman’s contract also going through late 2014.
NBC‘s announcement today that Leno will retire in spring (likely February) of 2014, assures that Letterman will be the last man standing in the duo’s 20-year rivalry. Having outlasted his archrival, 65-year-old Letterman too may decide to retire at the end of his deal instead of going toe-to-toe with younger new competitors, Jimmy Fallon (38) on NBC and Jimmy Kimmel (45) on ABC. The key thing is that it will likely be his decision to make. Letterman has largely been given carte blanche to do the show for as long as he wants to. (Though in his recent interview with Oprah, Letterman claimed he has an agreement with CBS topper Les Moonves that Moonves has to tell him when it is time to go.)
David Letterman didn’t waste any time to take his digs at NBC and the official announcement that Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show next year to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon. “I got a call from my mom today, she says, ‘Well, David, I see you didn’t get the Tonight Show again,’ ” the CBS Late Show host said in his monologue to air tonight (see the preview below). “NBC, God bless ‘em, announced the official date for Jay Leno’s departure — no mention of his official date of return, however,” he added, alluding to the last time his longtime late-night rival was dumped from the Tonight Show for Conan O’Brien — only to return eight months later. Added Letterman: “It seems like we just went through this. Didn’t we just go through this? Jay Leno now is being replaced, and this is the second time this has happened. I mean, it’s crazy. He’s being replaced by a younger late-night talk show host — what could possibly go wrong? Honestly. They had pretty good luck with this in the past”.
As well as doing a Leno-themed Top 10 tonight, Letterman — who was passed over for the Tonight Show job in favor of Leno in 1992 and soon after departed for CBS – had more to say. From his desk tonight:
David Letterman, who’s never been shy about his feelings about Jay Leno, gives his old rival a classic back-handed compliment in his upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN program Oprah’s Next Chapter. “He’s an unusual fellow. I’ve never met anyone quite like Jay,” Letterman says in the released promo clip. “And I will say, and I’m happy to say, that I think he is the funniest guy I’ve ever known. Just flat out, if you go to see him do his nightclub act, just the funniest, the smartest, a wonderful observationist and very appealing as a comic. Therefore, the fact that he is also maybe the most insecure person I have ever known — I could never reconcile that.” Ouch! Letterman’s statement on Leno was actually in response to Winfrey’s question when the duo’s rivalry began (not when Leno got the Tonight Show gig according to Letterman), so we’ll presumably find that out. The interview, which comes on the heels of fellow latetnight comedian Jimmy Kimmel bashing Leno, airs January 6. Winfrey, Letterman and Leno have a history together — the trio did the famous Late Night With David Letterman Super Bowl promo, which aired at the height of NBC’s Leno-Conan debacle of 2010. (you watch it again below)
At his first taping after Friday’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, David Letterman spent a good portion of his opening remarks during Monday’s Late Night With David Letterman behind his desk, expressing his feelings about the killings — …
Oy, what an embarrassing (or was it charming?) bromance by both late-night hosts Wednesday while Jimmy Kimmel Live is filming in Brooklyn:
Here’s a clip released by CBS from Monday night’s The Late Show with David Letterman without an audience. So Dave read his monologue to the band. “I’m no safety expert, but if I were at home, I’d be boarding up my television,” letterman quipped. The Top 10 list consisted of …
Donald Trump explains to David Letterman his $5 million charitable challenge for President Obama to release his college records and his passport application:
And after the jump, watch Stephen Colbert’s report on Trump’s “October surprise” offer, with Colbert’s $1 million counter-offer to Trump. Plus a clip of Barbara Walters on The View, telling her friend Trump “You’re making a fool of yourself.”
Leno Slaps Comcast For ‘Tonight’ Cutbacks; Dave And Jay Ignore Jimmy’s Move News; Kimmel Tells Audience About “Our Big Day”
UPDATED: His lord and master Comcast EVP and NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke happened to be in town early this week. So Jay Leno made the most of it. For two nights in a row the late night host opened his Burbank monologue by slapping Comcast for ordering layoffs and pay cuts on The Tonight Show. “Or, as we call it, Survivor Comcast,” Leno said on Tuesday’s broadcast, adding ”NBC now stands for Nothing But Cutbacks.” Leno also came out swinging on Monday’s show saying, “Comcast calls us The Expendables… We’ve consistently been #1 in the ratings and, if you know anything about our network, that kind of thing is frowned upon.” Ouch! - because those are the same jokes Leno used to tell about his GE bosses. Then again, Jay is prone to whining on air.
Neither Leno nor David Letterman during their monologues took any notice of Tuesday’s big announcement that ABC’s midnight host Jimmy Kimmel will move his show to 11:35 PM on January 8th. No jokes, no mentions, no nuthin’. Hey, why give Jimmy any advance publicity before they all go head-to-head-to-head in late night?
As for Kimmel, he joked during his monologue that the news about his move was “almost as exciting as Miley Cyrus’ new haircut”. He also said:
“It was a big day for us here today. You may have heard about this – or maybe not. ABC our network announced today that, starting in January – right around our 10-year anniversary – our show is moving from midnight to 11:35. I hope this doesn’t throw off my feeding schedule
Moving from midnight to 11:35 might not sound like a big deal – it’s only 25 minutes – but it’s probably the most important 25 minutes of my life since the first 14 times I had sex.
So to all those people who’ve been telling me “your show is on too late for me” – you’re going to need a new excuse. Like “your show sucks”.
In his first TV appearance since his ouster from Current TV, Keith Olbermann guests on CBS‘ Late Show With David Letterman tonight. In a preview released by CBS, Olbermann and Letterman talk about Olbermann’s short stint at Current TV. “I screwed up, I screwed up really big on this,” Olbermann …
CBS has locked in its late night hosts for two more years. David Letterman and Craig Ferguson have signed contract extensions with the network to continue to host their late night talk shows, Late Show and The Late Late Show, respectively, through 2014. Both shows have been solely produced by Letterman’s Worldwide Pants banner under the talk show host’s original 1993 agreement with CBS. As part of the new pact, CBS will take on some ownership of The Late Late Show, co-producing it with Worldwide Pants. Also as part of the deal, The Late Late Show will move to a larger stage at CBS Television City in Los Angeles.
For Letterman, the contract extension provides a shot at making late night history. During his new deal, the comedian, who made his debut in late night in 1982, would become the longest-running late night talk show host in TV history, surpassing the current record of 30 years held by Letterman’s idol Johnny Carson. “David Letterman is a late night legend with an iconic show and Craig Ferguson continues to evolve the genre in exciting and innovative ways,” said CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler.
After his abrupt exit from MSNBC last year, Keith Olbermann made his first TV appearance on CBS’ Late Show With David Letterman. He will do it again after his latest acrimonious departure, this time from Current TV. Olbermann will sit down with Letterman on Tuesday. During his previous visit, Olbermann called the offer to join Current TV “manna from heaven.” That probably won’t be the choice of words he will use about his now-ex-employer this time around. Last May, Letterman asked Olbermann about the nine employers he has left during his career and the state of the bridges he’s left behind. “Some people have said, I did not burn the bridges,” Olbermann said. “I have napalmed them. My argument was I did not burn the bridges, I burnt the rivers.” Ten months later, the only thing that has changed is the number of jilted employers, which has climbed to 10. Here is a video of last year’s chat:
David Letterman celebrated his 30th year on late-night TV with a Top 10 that’s a nice shout-out to his long-time staff:
David Letterman and CBS are “very close” to a deal that would extend Letterman’s contract through 2014, according to the New York Times. The network also has been authorized to negotiate with staff members of Letterman’s Worldwide Pants production …
The former CBS News producer who tried to blackmail David Letterman for $2 million has joined the staff of Investigation Discovery’s On the Case with Paula Zahn, TVNewser reported today. Joe Halderman, who was a producer for 48 …