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with David Letterman
|Also known as||Late Night (franchise brand)|
|Genre|| Talk |
|Created by||David Letterman|
|Written by|| Merrill Markoe |
(head writer: 1982)
(head writer: 1982–83)
(head writer: 1983–92)
(head writer: 1992–93)
|Presented by||David Letterman|
|Starring|| Paul Shaffer |
and The World's Most Dangerous Band
|Narrated by||Bill Wendell|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||11|
|No. of episodes||1,819|
|Executive producer(s)|| Jack Rollins (1982–92)|
Barry Sand (1982–88)
David Letterman (1987–93)
Robert Morton (1987–93)
Peter Lassally (1992–93)
|Production location(s)||Studio 6-A, NBC Studios |
New York, New York
|Running time||42–43 minutes|
|Production company(s)|| Carson Productions |
Worldwide Pants Incorporated (1990–93)
Space Age Meats Productions (1982–90)
|Picture format||480i (4:3 SDTV)|
|Original release||February 1, 1982 –|
June 25, 1993
|Preceded by||Tomorrow Coast to Coast|
|Followed by||Late Night with Conan O'Brien|
|Related shows|| The David Letterman Show |
Late Show with David Letterman
Late Night with David Lettermanis an American late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman. It premiered on NBC on February 1, 1982,and concluded on June 25, 1993. Letterman began hosting Late Show with David Letterman on CBS in August 1993. The series has since been reformatted as Late Night with Conan O'Brien , Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Late Night with Seth Meyers .
A late-night talk show is a genre of talk show popular in the United States, where the format originated. It is generally structured around humorous monologues about the day's news, guest interviews, comedy sketches and music performances. The late-night talk show format was popularized, though not invented, by Johnny Carson with The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on NBC. Typically the show's host conducts interviews from behind a desk, while the guest is seated on a couch. Many late night talk shows feature a house band which generally performs cover songs for the studio audience during commercial breaks and occasionally will back up a guest artist.
David Michael Letterman is an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He hosted late night television talk shows for 33 years, beginning with the February 1, 1982, debut of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC, and ending with the May 20, 2015, broadcast of Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. In total, Letterman hosted 6,080 episodes of Late Night and Late Show, surpassing his friend and mentor Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history. In 1996 Letterman was ranked 45th on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2002, The Late Show with David Letterman was ranked seventh on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) is an American English-language commercial terrestrial television network that is a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia. The network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting. It became the network's official emblem in 1979.
In 2013, this series and Late Show with David Letterman were ranked #41 on TV Guide's 60 Best Series of All Time.
TV Guide is a bi-weekly American magazine that provides television program listings information as well as television-related news, celebrity interviews and gossip, film reviews, crossword puzzles, and, in some issues, horoscopes. The print magazine is owned by NTVB Media, while its digital properties are controlled by the CBS Interactive division of CBS Corporation; the TV Guide name and associated editorial content from the publication are licensed by CBS Interactive for use on the website and mobile app through an agreement with the magazine's parent subsidiary TVGM Holdings, Inc.
After his morning show on NBC was canceled in October 1980 after only 18 weeks on the air,David Letterman was still held in sufficient regard by the network brass (especially NBC president Fred Silverman) that upon hearing the 33-year-old comedian was being courted by a syndication company, NBC gave him a $20,000 per week ($1,000,000 for a year) deal to sit out a year and guest-host a few times on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show .
The David Letterman Show is a short-lived morning talk show on NBC, hosted by David Letterman. It ran from June 23 to October 24, 1980. Originally, the series lasted 90 minutes, then 60 minutes from August 4 onward.
Fred Silverman is an American television executive and producer. He worked as an executive at all of the Big Three television networks, and was responsible for bringing to television such programs as the series Scooby-Doo (1969–present), All in the Family (1971–1979), The Waltons (1972–1981), and Charlie's Angels (1976–1981), as well as the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man (1976), Roots (1977) and Shōgun (1980). For his success in programming wildly popular shows, Time magazine declared him "the man with the Golden gut" in 1977.
John William Carson was an American television host, comedian, writer, and producer. He is best known as the host of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962–1992). Carson received six Emmy Awards, the Television Academy's 1980 Governor's Award, and a 1985 Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992 and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993.
In 1981, NBC and Carson, after significant acrimony, reached an agreement on a new contract, which (among other concessions to Carson) granted the venerable host the rights to the time slot immediately following The Tonight Show. a.m. time slot Monday through Thursday, with occasional specials every few Fridays, all aimed at young men. The network wanted to capitalize on catering to young males, feeling that there was very little late-night programming for that demographic. The newly announced show thus displaced the Tomorrow Coast to Coast program hosted by Tom Snyder from the 12:30 slot. NBC initially offered Snyder to move his show back an hour, but Snyder, already unhappy with being forced to adopt changes to Tomorrow that he detested, refused and ended the show instead. The final first-run Tomorrow episode aired on December 17, 1981.All throughout 1981, in addition to guest-hosting the Tonight Show as outlined in the terms of his NBC contract, Letterman also frequently appeared as guest on the highly-rated program as the network groomed the 34-year-old for a new project. Finally, on November 9, 1981, NBC and Carson's production company Carson Productions as well as Letterman's newly-established production company Space Age Meats Productions (a forerunner to today's Worldwide Pants Incorporated) announced the creation of Late Night with David Letterman, set to premiere in early 1982 in the 12:30
Thomas James Snyder was an American television personality, news anchor, and radio personality best known for his late night talk shows Tomorrow, on the NBC television network in the 1970s and 1980s, and The Late Late Show, on the CBS Television Network in the 1990s. Snyder was also the pioneer anchor of the primetime NBC News Update, in the 1970s and early 1980s, which was a one-minute capsule of news updates in primetime.
The staff responsible for preparing the launch of Late Night included Merrill Markoe in the head writing role, seasoned TV veteran Hal Gurnee as director, Letterman's manager Jack Rollins as executive producer, and a group of young writers — most of them in their early twenties, including the somewhat more experienced 29-year-old Jim Downey who had previously written for Saturday Night Live and 27-year-old Steve O'Donnell. Markoe stepped down as head writer after a few months, and was succeeded by Downey who was in turn succeeded by O'Donnell in 1983. O'Donnell would serve as the head writer through most of the rest of the show's run while Downey went back to Saturday Night Live in 1984. Also on board, initially as a production assistant in charge of the "Stupid Pet Tricks" segment, was 21-year-old Chris Elliott. Elliott would quickly be promoted to writer and a recurring featured player.
Merrill Markoe is an American author, television writer, and occasional standup comedian.
Hal Gurnee is an American television director who directed all of the television shows hosted by David Letterman on NBC. Gurnee directed the NBC daytime program The David Letterman Show, then moved with Letterman to Late Night with David Letterman in 1982. Gurnee himself would often be heard or appear on the show, when Letterman would call on him in the control room to facilitate a comedy segment. When introducing him, Letterman would deliberately stumble over and mispronounce his last name, or confuse him with Dan Gurney.
Jack Rollins was an American film and television producer and talent manager of comedians and television personalities. His first major success came in the 1950s when he managed actor and singer Harry Belafonte. Rollins co-wrote the song Man Piaba with Belafonte on his 1954 debut RCA Victor album Mark Twain and other Folk Favorites. In 1958 he helped create and promote the comedy duo Nichols and May. He went on to help shepherd the careers of several prominent comedians with his partner Charles H. Joffe, beginning in 1960 with Woody Allen and later with Dick Cavett, Billy Crystal, David Letterman, and Robin Williams.
The plan from the start was to resurrect the spirit of Letterman's morning show for a late-night audience, one more likely to plug into his offbeat humor. The show also got a house band, hiring NBC staff musician Paul Shaffer to lead the group; after several years on the show without a formal name, the band was eventually given the moniker The World's Most Dangerous Band in 1988.
Paul Allen Wood Shaffer, CM is a Canadian singer, composer, actor, author, comedian and multi-instrumentalist who served as David Letterman's musical director, band leader and sidekick on the entire run of both Late Night with David Letterman (1982–1993) and Late Show with David Letterman (1993–2015).
Realizing that NBC executives exhibited very little desire to micromanage various aspects of the show, the staff felt confident they would be allowed to push outside of the mainstream talk-show boundaries and thus set about putting together a quirky, absurdist, and odd program. Snyder's Tomorrow re-runs continued until Thursday, January 28, 1982 and four days later on Monday, February 1, 1982,Late Night premiered with a cold opening featuring Larry "Bud" Melman delivering lines as an homage to the prologue of Boris Karloff's Frankenstein , followed by Letterman coming out on stage to Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No. 1" behind a group of female dancers — the peacock girls who had also opened the finale of The David Letterman Show . After a brief monologue, the very first comedy segment was a sarcastic tour of the studio. The first guest, 31-year-old comedian and actor Bill Murray, came out in confrontational fashion, throwing jibes and accusations at the host as part of a knowing put-on. He remained for two more similarly sardonic segments in which he first presented footage of a Chinese zoo baby panda as a supposed home video of his recently adopted pet, before expressing newfound love for aerobics and pulling a crew member onstage, making her do jumping jacks along with him to Olivia Newton-John's "Physical". The second comedy piece was a remote titled "The Shame of the City"; taking a general format of a local news action segment, it featured Letterman touring several New York locations pointing out various civic problems with righteous indignation. The second guest was Don Herbert, TV's "Mr. Wizard", and the show ended with a young comic named Steve Fessler reciting aloud the script of the obscure Bela Lugosi film Bowery at Midnight .
The reviews were mixed— Los Angeles Times wrote: "Much of Letterman's first week did not jell" — but more importantly, the show drew 1.5 million viewers, 30% more than had tuned in for Snyder's Tomorrow.
On the third night, after baseball great Hank Aaron finished his interview segment with Letterman, a camera followed him backstage, where TV sportscaster Al Albert conducted a post-interview chat with Aaron about how it had gone. Eccentric and awkward, the show immediately established a sensibility that was clearly different from The Tonight Show.
The show was produced by Johnny Carson's production company, as a result of a clause in Carson's contract with NBC that gave him control of what immediately followed The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Carson, for his part, wanted Late Night to have as little overlap with his show as possible. In fact, most ground rules and restrictions on what Letterman could do came not from the network but from the production company itself. Letterman could not have a sidekick like Ed McMahon, and Paul Shaffer's band could not include a horn section like Doc Severinsen's. Letterman was told he could not book old-school showbiz guests such as James Stewart, George Burns, or Buddy Hackett, who were fixtures on Johnny's show (the fact that Tonight had long moved to Hollywood and Late Night was taped in New York helped minimize guest overlap). Letterman was also specifically instructed not to replicate any of the signature pieces of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson like "Stump the Band" or "Carnac the Magnificent". Carson also wanted Letterman to minimize the number of topical jokes in his opening monologue.
Late Night originated from NBC Studio 6A at the RCA (later GE) Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The program ran four nights a week, Monday to Thursday, from the show's premiere on February 1, 1982 until June 4, 1987. Friday shows were added on June 12, 1987, although the show still only produced 4 new episodes a week—Monday's shows were re-runs. (NBC previously aired Friday Night Videos in the 12:30 a.m. slot on Saturday morning, with occasional Late Night specials and reruns.) Starting on September 2, 1991, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was pushed back from 11:30 p.m. to 11:35 p.m., with Letterman starting at 12:35 a.m., at the request of NBC affiliates who wanted more advertising time for their profitable late newscasts.
On September 30, 1991, A&E, a U.S. cable channel at the time partly owned by General Electric — the same corporate entity that owned NBC, began airing Late Night repeats in an effort of monetizing the show's vast accumulation of old episodes. The repeats aired less than a year, until July 24, 1992. The syndication deal was done without Letterman's blessing, and he frequently made his displeasure known on-air, feeling that having reruns air five nights a week, earlier in the evening on cable, diluted the value of the nightly first-run shows on NBC — fearing people would not be willing to stay up late for the first-run if they could watch the show at a more reasonable time. Because of Letterman's opposition, the syndication run was ended early and not attempted again until he had left NBC.
In mid-1993, E! Entertainment Television purchased syndication rights to Late Night with David Letterman. The network aired complete shows from various years five days per week from 1993 until 1996. Then, Trio: Popular Arts Television (owned by NBC/Vivendi Universal Entertainment) picked up reruns and showed them from 2002 until the channel went off the air in 2005.
A number of programs were sold by GoodTimes Entertainment in 1992–93. These episodes were stripped of the series theme, open and close. No DVD release is currently scheduled (GoodTimes went bankrupt in 2005; the company's assets are now owned by Gaiam, which does not typically distribute general-interest programming).
Letterman, who had hoped to get the hosting job of The Tonight Show following Johnny Carson's retirement, moved to CBS in 1993 when the job was given to Jay Leno. This was done against the wishes of Carson, who had always seen Letterman as his rightful successor, according to CBS senior vice president Peter Lassally, a onetime producer for both men.On April 25, 1993, Lorne Michaels chose Conan O'Brien, who was a writer for The Simpsons at the time and a former writer for Michaels at Saturday Night Live , to fill Letterman's old seat directly after The Tonight Show. O'Brien began hosting a new show in Letterman's old timeslot, taking over the Late Night name on September 13, 1993.
When Letterman left, NBC asserted their intellectual property rights to several of the most popular Late Night segments. Letterman easily adapted to these restrictions for his CBS show: The "Viewer Mail" segment was continued under the name "CBS Mailbag," and Late Night fixture Larry "Bud" Melman continued his antics under his real name, Calvert DeForest. Similarly, the in-house band (now free to add horns) was unable to use the name "The World's Most Dangerous Band," so the name was changed to "Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra". The name "CBS Orchestra", approved by CBS (who retained rights to the name after Letterman retired in 2015), was Shaffer's idea. Notably, however, "Stupid Pet Tricks" originated on Letterman's 1980 early morning show The David Letterman Show , to which Letterman, not NBC, owned the rights. This meant "Stupid Pet Tricks" was able to cross over to the CBS show with its name and concept unchanged. With Carson retired, Letterman was also granted free use of some of Carson's sketches, and in due time, "Stump the Band" and "Carnac the Magnificent" (with Shaffer as Carnac) entered the Late Show rotation.
Both "Late Show" and "CBS Orchestra" are names from broadcasting's past. Beginning in 1951, The Late Show was the title under which some CBS affiliates, including network-owned stations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, ran movies late at night. These films began after the late local news, generally at 10:30 p.m. or 11:30 p.m. local time. The Late Show would usually be followed by another film on The Late Late Show and, on a night when there was time to add a third feature to the schedule, The Late Late Show II. Movies were regularly shown under the Late Show umbrella title well into the 1980s, after which they were increasingly displaced by overnight news broadcasts and infomercials. Still, The Late Show continued to appear sporadically for more than another decade; the last Late Show film was shown in 1999.
Another series called The Late Show was an unrelated attempt by Fox to establish its own late-night talk show. It was Fox's inaugural series, premiering in October 1986 and running on-and-off for four years.
The CBS Orchestra was the name of the orchestra that occasionally played on the CBS Radio Network. The name was also seen[ according to whom? ] as an homage to Carson's band, the NBC Orchestra.[ citation needed ]
Like most other late-night talk shows, the show featured at least two or three guests each night, usually including a comedian or musical guest.
Letterman frequently used crew members in his comedy bits, so viewers got to know the writers and crew members of the show. Common contributors included bandleader Paul Shaffer, Chris Elliott, Calvert DeForest as "Larry 'Bud' Melman," announcer Bill Wendell, writer Adam Resnick, scenic designer Kathleen Ankers, stage manager Biff Henderson, producer Robert Morton, director Hal Gurnee, associate director Peter Fatovic, stage hand Al Maher, camera operator Baily Stortz, production manager Elmer Gorry as NBC President Grant Tinker, and the "production twins," Barbara Gaines and Jude Brennan. The cramped quarters of 30 Rockefeller Plaza also often played into the humor of the show.
Letterman's show established a reputation for being unpredictable. A number of celebrities had even stated that they were afraid of appearing on the show. This reputation was born out of moments like Letterman's verbal sparring matches with Cher, Shirley MacLaine and Harvey Pekar.
Because of the creativity of staff writers like Merrill Markoe, Letterman's NBC show, in its first few years especially, had innovative segments and theme shows that were new and different from other talk shows of the time. Some were visual gags that owed a debt to pioneers like Ernie Kovacs and Steve Allen. Among the highlights were:
Other show format innovations related to the way individual episodes or segments were presented:
The show was nominated as Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series for 10 consecutive seasons, from its second full season in 1983–84 through its final season in 1992–93. Including the nominations for the CBS Late Show variant, the Letterman team was nominated 26 consecutive times in this category.
In 1991, the show's three production companies—Carson Productions, Worldwide Pants, and NBC Productions—were awarded a Peabody Award, which cited the following:
Once a television wasteland, late night has become a daypart of increased interest to programmers, performers, and viewers. In the past ten years, one show has moved to the position of the leader in late night television in creativity, humor, and innovation. That program is Late Night With David Letterman. As one member of the Peabody Board remarked, "David Letterman is a born broadcaster." He is also a savvy co-executive producer. Along with co-executive producer Jack Rollins, producer Robert Morton, director Hal Gurnee, and musical director Paul Shaffer, Mr. Letterman has surrounded himself with exceptional talent and given them the go-ahead to experiment with the television medium. Particularly noteworthy is the work of head writer Steve O'Donnell and his talented staff. Together, the "Late Night" team manages to take one of TV's most conventional and least inventive forms—the talk show—and infuse it with freshness and imagination. For television programming which, at its best, is evocative of the greats, from Your Show of Shows , to The Steve Allen Show , and The Ernie Kovacs Show , a Peabody to Late Night with David Letterman.
Late Show with David Letterman is an American late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS, the first iteration of the Late Show franchise. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and was produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, and CBS Television Studios. The show's music director and leader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, was Paul Shaffer. The head writer was Matt Roberts and the announcer was originally Bill Wendell, then Alan Kalter. Of the major U.S. late-night programs, Late Show ranked second in cumulative average viewers over time and third in number of episodes over time. In most U.S. markets the show aired from 11:35 p.m. to 12:37 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, and recorded Monday through Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The second Thursday episode usually aired on Friday of that week.
The Tonight Show is an American late-night talk show currently broadcast from the NBC Studios in Rockefeller Center in New York City, the show's original location and airing on NBC since 1954. The series has been hosted by six comedians: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, and Jimmy Fallon, and had several recurring guest hosts including Ernie Kovacs during the Steve Allen era and Joan Rivers, Garry Shandling and Jay Leno during Johnny Carson's stewardship, although the practice has been abandoned since Carson's departure, with hosts preferring reruns to showcasing potential rivals. The Tonight Show is the world's longest-running talk show, and the longest-running, regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States. It is the third-longest-running show on NBC, after the news-and-talk shows Today and Meet the Press.
Late Night with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show hosted by Conan O'Brien that aired 2,725 episodes on NBC between 1993 and 2009. The show featured varied comedic material, celebrity interviews, and musical and comedy performances. Late Night aired weeknights at 12:37 am Eastern/11:37 pm Central and 12:37 am Mountain in the United States. From 1993 until 2000, Andy Richter served as O'Brien's sidekick; following his departure, O'Brien was the show's sole featured performer. The show's house musical act was The Max Weinberg 7, led by E Street Band drummer Max Weinberg.
Worldwide Pants Inc. is an American television and film production company founded and owned by comedian and former talk show host David Letterman.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jay Leno that first aired from May 25, 1992, to May 29, 2009, and resumed production on March 1, 2010 until its ending on February 6, 2014.
Last Call with Carson Daly was an American late night television program hosted by Carson Daly on NBC. Formerly a traditional talk show, the half-hour program consists of several produced segments, featuring interviews with musicians, comedians, actors, filmmakers, and other artists, along with pre-taped on-location musical performances. It debuted in 2002. Unlike other programs in NBC's late night line-up, Last Call typically records only 24 weeks of original shows a year with the rest of the year being taken up by reruns. It aired at 1:37 a.m. ET/PT each weeknight.
The Late Late Show is an American late-night television talk and variety comedy show on CBS. It first aired in January 1995, with host Tom Snyder, followed by Craig Kilborn and Craig Ferguson. It is currently hosted by James Corden. The show originates from CBS Television City in Los Angeles.
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is an American talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under the Tonight Show franchise from October 1, 1962 through May 22, 1992.
Carson's Comedy Classics was a stripped half-hour syndicated television show that was first released to U.S. television stations in 1983.
Allan Havey is an American stand-up comic and actor. He started his career as a comedian in New York City in 1981. He made his national debut in 1986 on Late Night with David Letterman and made many appearances on the show throughout the 1980s and 1990s. When Letterman left NBC for CBS after not being chosen to replace Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show, Havey was one of several comedians considered by NBC to replace Letterman.
The Tomorrow Show was an American late-night television talk show hosted by Tom Snyder. The show aired on NBC from 1973 to 1982 and featured many prominent guests, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Ayn Rand, Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead, Public Image Ltd, Ken Kesey, Charles Manson, The Clash, KISS, Ramones, and U2. Los Angeles news anchor Kelly Lange, a good friend of Snyder, was the regular substitute guest host.
The Pat Sajak Show is an American late-night television talk show which aired on CBS from January 9, 1989 to April 13, 1990.
The first season of Saturday Night Live, an American sketch comedy series, originally aired in the United States on NBC from October 11, 1975 to July 31, 1976.
Late Night is an American late-night talk and variety show airing on NBC since 1982. Four men have hosted Late Night: David Letterman (1982–93), Conan O'Brien (1993–2009), Jimmy Fallon (2009–14), and Seth Meyers (2014–present). Each iteration of the show was built around its host, and maintained distinct identities aside from the title, timeslot, and network. The longest-serving host to date was O'Brien, who hosted Late Night with Conan O'Brien for 16 years, from September 1993 to February 2009.
The Late Show is an American late-night talk show franchise on CBS. It first aired in August 1993 with host David Letterman, who previously hosted Late Night with David Letterman on NBC from 1982 to 1993. Letterman's iteration of the program ran until his retirement on May 20, 2015. Comedian Stephen Colbert, best known for his roles on Comedy Central programs The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, assumed hosting duties in September. The show originates from the Ed Sullivan Theater in the Theater District of Manhattan, New York, and airs live to tape in most U.S. markets at 11:35 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 10:35 in the Central and Mountain time zones.
| Late Night era by host|
1 February 1982 – 25 June 1993
Late Night with Conan O'Brien
The David Letterman Show
| David Letterman talk show|
1 February 1982 – 25 June 1993
Late Show with David Letterman