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Late Show with David Letterman is an American late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993, and is produced by Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated. The show's music director and bandleader of the house band, the CBS Orchestra, is Paul Shaffer. The head writers are brothers Justin Stangel and Eric Stangel. The announcer is Alan Kalter, who replaced Bill Wendell in 1995.

In most American markets the show airs at 11:35 pm Eastern/Pacific time, but is recorded Mondays at 4:30 pm and 7:00 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 5:30 pm, and Thursdays at 4:30 pm. The second Monday episode usually airs on Friday of that week.

Letterman was previously the host of Late Night with David Letterman on NBC from 1982 to 1993. The show was co-produced by Carson Productions, Worldwide Pants Incorporated, and NBC Productions. Shaffer, Wendell, and several members of the band were also with the NBC show.


When Letterman moved to CBS and began the Late Show, several of Late Night's long-running comedy bits made the move with him. Letterman renamed a few of his regular bits to avoid legal problems over trademark infringement (NBC cited that what he did on Late Night was "intellectual property" of the network). "Viewer Mail" on NBC became the "CBS Mailbag", and Larry "Bud" Melman began to use his real name, Calvert DeForest. Paul Shaffer's "World's Most Dangerous Band" became "The CBS Orchestra", a not-so-subtle jab at NBC regarding the show's new home, and a play on the NBC Orchestra of the long running The Tonight Show. Letterman's signature bit, the Top Ten List, was perfunctorily renamed the "Late Show Top Ten List" (over time it was simply referred to again by its original name).

After Letterman was introduced on the Late Show's very first episode, NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw accompanied him on stage and wished him luck "within reason". As part of a pre-arranged act, Brokaw then proceeded to retrieve a pair of cue cards while stating that "These last two jokes are the intellectual property of NBC!" After he carried them off stage, Letterman responded, "Who would have thought you would ever hear the words 'intellectual property' and 'NBC' at the same time?" In his opening monologue, Letterman said "Legally, I can continue to call myself Dave" but joked that he woke up that morning and next to him in bed was the head of a peacock (while the orchestra played the theme from The Godfather).

In ratings, Letterman's Late Show initially dominated Leno's Tonight Show for its first two years. However, Letterman was more reluctant than Leno's Los Angelesmarker-based show to capitalize on the 1994-1995 OJ Simpson murder case. Finally, Leno pulled ahead on July 10, 1995, starting with a Hugh Grant interview, after Grant's much-publicized arrest for picking up an LA prostitute. Leno also benefitted from the lead-in provided by NBC's popular Must See TV prime time programs of the mid- to late 1990s. At times Late Show even came in third in its timeslot (behind Nightline, most recently in November, 2008), once prompting Letterman to arrange for a Manhattanmarker billboard proudly declaring himself and his show to be "#3 in Late Night," aping an older, nearby billboard which promoted Leno and The Tonight Show as #1.

In recent years, Letterman and the Late Show have openly made jokes in reference to Leno, although it is often done in a self-deprecating manner. Such jokes usually refer to The Tonight Show's consistent lead in the ratings, a common example being where a guest presenter of the Top Ten List will use one of the entries to declare his or her preference for Leno, resulting in Letterman feigning humiliation or surprise. In a "What Things Cost" sketch in 2000, Letterman explained that it cost $10,000 to keep an open phone line with actor Leonard Nimoy. Upon thanking Nimoy for his help, Nimoy tersely admitted that he was unable to talk because "I'm watching Leno".

When John McCain announced he was running for president, he said that the "official" announcement would come later. Shaffer then remarked that he was "saving it for Leno".

From November 11, 2002 to February 14, 2003, the show was simulcast on several CBS-owned radio stations. The show's Top Ten List continues to be syndicated as a short-form feature.

On June 1, 2009, Conan O'Brien (who had succeeded Letterman as host of Late Night in 1993) took over as host of The Tonight Show - an event Letterman referenced in his own show's Top Ten List on that night - and Letterman's "feud" with Leno came to a close. In 2008 Letterman told Rolling Stone that he would welcome Leno on his show once Leno's tenure ended. Letterman said on competing with O'Brien, "I still find it hard to believe that Jay won’t be there." The interview was held prior to Leno announcing his return to NBC for The Jay Leno Show.

In the second week after Letterman and O'Brien began their opposing broadcasts, viewer ratings for Tonight began to slip and Late Show was poised to beat Tonight for the first time in over ten years, a fact pointed out by Letterman's guests on air (Howard Stern and Julia Roberts). Letterman quickly tried to change subject in the interviews and tried to avert a new rivalry. In fact, the June 9, 2009 episode of Late Show featuring Roberts rated better than Tonight with a 3.4 household rating nationally to O'Brien's 2.9.

Letterman is under contract with CBS until the end of 2010. He is reportedly close to a contract extension that will keep him with CBS through 2012.


Same-day tapings

When Letterman is not on vacation (which he takes roughly ten weeks per year), he and his crew work four days per week, taping Friday's show earlier in the week. For a while , Friday's show was taped on Thursdays, but since 2004 Friday's show has been taped on Mondays. For Friday's show, the Late Show monologue topics, sketches, and audience participation games are chosen for their lack of topicality, with few if any references to current events or any subject which would run the risk of seeming dated.

Episode structure

On rare episodes, the show begins with a cold open with Letterman in a baseball cap interacting with a celebrity. The show's opening credits feature a series of shots of New York City as the CBS Orchestra performs the Late Show theme (a livelier variation of the more jazzy Late Night theme). The announcer presents the names of that night's guests, as well as Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, then introduces Letterman.

Letterman then walks out on the show stage to perform his stand-up monologue, which often begins with an inside reference to something an audience member said to him during the pre-show Q&A. The jokes are based on pop culture, current events, and politics. He then introduces one or two video jokes such as a running gag or fake commercial/public service announcement. The monologue is followed by Letterman's introduction of Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. Letterman will then go to commercial and when he returns he then chats with the audience and Shaffer, relating an unscripted personal story, discussing his anticipation of a particular upcoming guest, or continuing a running gag.

Letterman reads the Top Ten List at this point before turning to guest interviews with a celebrity, politician, or public figure. On most episodes, the first guest stays on through the commercial break and continues the interview, especially if he or she is a more well-known figure. In other instances, a second guest is brought out at this point.

Following the first guest is a short segment to bridge two commercial breaks sequentially. In earlier episodes, Letterman would return to his running gag during this break, or retry a failed stunt from earlier in the show. Later episodes include a brief comedy announcement from announcer Alan Kalter while showing the audience cheering.

The final segment consists of a live musical performance, a comedian performing a stand-up routine, or another lesser-known guest interview. The CBS Orchestra frequently assists musical guests in performing their songs. Episodes usually conclude with Letterman recommending viewers stay tuned for 'Craig Ferguson', then he waves to the camera, saying, "Good night everybody!"

Regular sketches

The Late Show has various repeated absurdist segments, including those involving cast members' and audience participation. The show will also take a camera crew into the Hello Deli to show games such as "What's on the iPod?" and "Beat the Clock," or onto 53rd Street or the roof to record various stunts there.


Announcer Bill Wendell retired and left the show on August 18, 1995. He was replaced by Alan Kalter on the show's next episode which came after a two-week hiatus.

In 1996, long-time producer Robert Morton left and head writer Rob Burnett was promoted to executive producer.

Director Hal Gurnee and producer Peter Lassally left the show soon after to pursue other interests. Gurnee was replaced by Jerry Foley. Burnett was absent from the day-to-day operations from 2000 to 2004, and was replaced by Barbara Gaines and Maria Pope, both of whom continue to serve as executive producers, with Gaines currently acting as on-air producer. In 2003, producer Jude Brennan was added to the team of executive producers.

Lassally, who had served as an executive producer for Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, was invited back to the Late Show in January 2005 as a guest to discuss the recent death of Carson. Lassally currently serves as executive producer for Worldwide Pants' The Late Late Show (dating back to its years under original host Tom Snyder) as well as the Tony Mendez Show, an online webcast featuring the Late Show's "cue card boy".

High-definition broadcasts

The show began broadcasting in high definition on August 29, 2005. About two weeks later, Tim Kennedy, the show's Technical Director, commented on the transition in the show's official newsletter:
The biggest challenge in the HD conversion was to renovate and upgrade our old control room, audio room, videotape room, and edit room while still doing five shows a week...
This entailed pulling a remote production truck on 53rd Street running somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 feet of video and audio cable just to tie the truck to the existing technical plant...
The coolest piece of equipment is our new control room Virtual Wall.
We have done away with the conventional monitor for every video source and replaced it with four 70-inch rear projection screens and within those screens we can "virtually" place as many video images as we want, anywhere we want them, and when we want it.
Kennedy and his crew won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video for a Series" during the nearly-four-month-long transition to HDTV.


Physical comedy

Letterman himself is known for his quirky physical comedy, which he has used in varied degrees throughout the years. Examples are throwing his blue note cards through the prop window behind him or throwing pencils at the camera (always followed with a sound effect of shattering glass), slapping the camera, pausing to take a long drink of his coffee, exaggeratedly loud coughing and clearing his throat, showing the inside lining of his suit, showing his receding hairline, long awkward moments to organize his note cards on his desk, flipping pencils upward and trying to catch them one-handed (à la Johnny Carson), wiggling his tie, adjusting the height of his chair, stirring his guests' coffee with a pencil before they arrive, and pausing to clean his glasses. In earlier episodes he would often throw objects into the audience.

Though Letterman is typically well-attired and neat, a common gag is his pretending to eat or drink excessive amounts of both edible and non-edible items, for instance, eating mayonnaise straight from the jar, allowing it to slop onto his face and onto the front of his suit. During a cooking segment with Martha Stewart there was a table set up with ingredients to demonstrate how to prepare some sort of meal. Letterman feigned clumsy uninterest, measuring the wrong amounts, throwing raw eggs at the band, gulping down bottles of wine, eating half a stick of butter, and generally wreaking havoc in an attempt to fluster his guest. Stewart tried to nonchalantly continue her cooking presentation, until finally, in an apparent "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" moment, succumbed to the fun, taking a big bite of butter herself. A similar situation occurred during a cooking segment featuring Britishmarker chef Jamie Oliver, beginning with Letterman eating raw onions and resulting in he, Oliver and the episode's first guest Tom Cruise, and later Paul Shaffer all drinking from a bottle of olive oil.


Another Letterman trademark is his penchant for odd, non-sequitur one-liners. Often they come from obscure sources with little to no explanation and appear to be mostly used for Letterman's own amusement. One of his more original ones is "I bet that guy makes his own gravy", often referring to overweight people who perspire. Whenever venturing into dangerous territory, Dave often rescues himself with a very familiar one liner, "and I don't even know what that means", which bails him out and is funny at the same time. Some of the one-liners seem to derive from experiences in Letterman's personal life, random lines he heard on TV, or favorite lines used by his comedian friends. Others are exaggerations of typical talk-show patter, in keeping with Letterman's ironic take on his own television genre. Shaffer will often laugh at the jokes, although this is usually due to the repetition and familiarity of them, rather than the nature of the jokes themselves. He also periodically falls into a slightly over-acted impression of Ed McMahon laughing at Johnny Carson, which seems to irritate Dave in a funny way.


Letterman will often poke fun at himself in a wide variety of ways, ranging from the content of his show (such as admitting when a joke is not particularly funny), his personal life (portraying himself as a reclusive loner), his physical appearance (his hair or "advanced age"), and his staff's supposed frustration with him (being forced to work on holidays). Such jokes will be made through impromptu remarks made by Letterman, or even in scripted material presented by Letterman or various staff members. In one episode, foreigners would appear on stage one by one, hurling a flurry of insults at Letterman in their native languages. Another more common gag consists of audience members finding ways to leave the show to Letterman's embarrassment.

Guest hosts

Very occasionally, Letterman will use guest hosts; in the past, he has done so when he has taken an extended medical leave. Adam Sandler and Bonnie Hunt are among the many substitute hosts that have been used on the Late Show. When a guest hosts the show, the monologue is typically less topical and more of a long-form conversation.

In 2000, after Letterman had quintuple bypass surgery, the Late Show Backstage was aired. This featured many celebrities reminiscing about their experiences as guests on his show. Bandleader Paul Shaffer was among those who hosted, when he interviewed Jerry Seinfeld. These interviews were interspersed with past footage. Previously, only reruns without any special introductions had been aired since Letterman's temporary leave from the show.

Letterman returned on a limited basis on February 18 (a show which aired on the 21st). To help ease the transition, guests hosts were temporarily installed. Bill Cosby and Regis Philbin (his former Live co-host Kathie Lee Gifford would later guest-host as well) filled-in on the first week.

In the summer of 2003, Letterman had guest-hosts for a month. They were Tom Green, Tom Arnold, Kelsey Grammer, and Jimmy Fallon (who later went on to become the host of Letterman's old show, Late Night). The rating separating Letterman and Leno increased and Letterman ended this experiment a month after it began.

Notable episodes

August 30, 1993

The premiere of Late Show, featuring Bill Murray and singer Billy Joel, attracts 23 million viewers. Murray, who had been Letterman's first Late Night guest on NBC in 1982, spray-painted "Dave!" on the front of the host's desk.

March 31, 1994

On March 31, 1994, pop star Madonna appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman. The unofficial "Queen of Pop", who is known for controversy, infamously swore thirteen times throughout the interview and refused to leave at the end. Letterman, who asked her questions on various topics including her nose ring, music and love life was soon branded a "sick fuck", after he suggested Madonna kiss a member of the audience. Madonna went on to ask if Letterman was wearing a "rug", whether he wanted to smell a pair of underwear she brought on the show, or whether he thought the microphone was sexually big. In between this, Madonna often swore and referred to sexual themes including her vagina, saying: "Did you know it's good to pee in the shower?" Eventually, she swore so much that the producers went to commercials and showed comedic monologues of Madonna. Letterman has since stated, in USA Today: "I'm not pleased with the way I handled it. I should have said, 'You say that word one more time and you're gone. That's it. Adios.' And I didn't." Madonna appeared days later on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Although she appeared briefly at the stroke of midnight on Valentine's Day, 1995 to present Letterman with a bouquet of roses, her return to the show as a guest was not until 2000, while promoting her album Music. During that interview, and other subsequent interviews on the show, Letterman joked that he still had the panties that she gave him.

During the September 1994 MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna was a presenter and was escorted onstage by Letterman who kissed her hand and stated, "I'll be in the car. Just... watch your language.", and walked off stage to applause.

May 13, 1994

During a week of shows taped in Los Angeles, Johnny Carson made a surprise appearance on the show after leaving The Tonight Show. Carson maintained a friendship with the show for the years that followed, even secretly writing jokes for the monologue. This rare surprise appearance was Carson's final television appearance before his death.

Dec. 2, 1994

Hello Deli owner Rupert Jee makes his first appearance, on a segment called "Fun With Rupert".

April 12, 1995

After finding out it was Letterman's birthday, Drew Barrymore gave him a "little impromptu birthday present": she "hopped up on his desk, did a sexy little dance, turned her back to the camera, and pulled a "Girls Gone Wild" breast flash.

September 20, 1996

In early September 1996, it was announced that Late Show would experiment with a commercial-free format. The September 20 broadcast of the show did not contain traditional commercials, although there were breaks (within the show) to acknowledge sponsors.

February 23, 1999

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler who had assumed office on January 4, visits the show for the first time.

December 31, 1999

Late Show broadcasts in prime time for the year 2000 New Year's Eve. Kevin James is the guest, with a performance by the Brooklyn Philharmonic and cameo appearances by Dick Clark and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

February 21, 2000

On January 14, Letterman announced on Late Show that he was undergoing an angiogram the following day, after doctors had recently been concerned about his high cholesterol and family history (his father died of a heart attack at 57). Soon it was discovered that he had blocked arteries and had to undergo a quintuple bypass. During his recovery, after a few weeks of rerun broadcasts, the show was hosted by guests for several weeks. On his first show after recovering, Regis Philbin was his first guest; Letterman brought out all the doctors and nurses on the show who had helped him during his surgery and recovery. Despite nearly breaking out in tears during the show, Letterman seemed to find humor in his situation; while referring to one of his nurses, he said: "This woman saw me naked!". He continued to joke about the event for weeks after his return.

September 17, 2001

On September 17, 2001, David Letterman was the first major Americanmarker comedy performer to return to the television airwaves after the September 11, 2001 attacks. In his opening monologue, absent the usual musical opening credits and cheering audience, an uncharacteristically serious and very emotional Letterman struggled with the reality of the attacks and the role of comedy in a post-9/11 world, saying:

Letterman got his first laugh when, at the end of his monologue, he said, "And thank God Regis is here so we have something to make fun of." His first guest that night was then-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who broke down twice in tears. His musical guest that night was Tori Amos, who performed a cover of Tom Waits' "Time".

Before September 11, various mocking and self important descriptions were affixed to New York City at the beginning of the show, but starting with the September 17, 2001, show and continuing to the present announcer Alan Kalter introduces the show as being "From New York, The Greatest City in the World, it's The Late Show with David Letterman!"

The opening shot of the credits, a view of Battery Parkmarker and the World Trade Center, was changed to an aerial shot of the Empire State Building.

Time Magazine named Letterman's return to the air after the attacks the Best TV Moment of 2001.

October 30, 2002

The musician Warren Zevon was featured as the only guest for the entire hour. The episode concerned his recent terminal mesothelioma diagnosis. The band played Zevon's classic song "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" as his introduction. Zevon performed several songs and spoke at length about his illness. Zevon was a frequent guest and occasional substitute bandleader on Letterman's television shows since Late Night was first broadcast in 1982. (Letterman had also performed some backing vocals on Zevon's "Hit Somebody ", with Paul Shaffer on organ.) Zevon noted, "I may have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years." It was during this broadcast that, when asked by Letterman if he knew something more about life and death now, he first offered his oft-quoted insight on dying: "Enjoy every sandwich". He also took time to thank Letterman for his years of help, calling him "the best friend my music's ever had". For his final song of the evening, and his final public performance, Zevon performed "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" at Letterman's request. In the green room after the show, Zevon presented Letterman with the guitar that he always used on the show, with a single request: "Here, I want you to have this. Take good care of it."

November 4, 2003

Letterman announces that "last night at 11:58, I became a father." The previous night, his longtime girlfriend, Regina Lasko, gave birth to his son, Harry.

March 17, 2004

Singer Courtney Love flashed Letterman while standing on his desk, her bare back to the audience.

March 29, 2004

Singer Janet Jackson made her first network television interview following the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy.

January 31, 2005

Letterman's first show after long-time friend and mentor Johnny Carson had died. The show had been on a one-week hiatus since his death. As a tribute, Letterman's opening monologue included jokes written by Carson (news reports in the weeks leading to Carson's death revealed that he had been regularly writing and sending Letterman some jokes) as well as clips shown from The Tonight Show. Other tributes to Carson in this episode included the band playing "Johnny's Theme" at the conclusion of Letterman's monologue, and use of title cards with the phrase, "More to Come" around commercial breaks (a standard feature of The Tonight Show during most of Carson's years there that has continued under Jay Leno's tenure). While describing how he felt about the news, Letterman stated: "There are so many things you miss about Johnny Carson... I was nearly this sad when the guy retired... Johnny Carson was like a public utility. At the end of the day, that's who you wanted to be there. The way that you know that Johnny was such a tremendous part of your life was when there was a guest host. You would be waiting all day to see Johnny and you'd tune in and there would be a guest host. And it would make you angry. And you'd be steaming mad, [though] not at Johnny, you would always take out your anger on the guest host."

December 1, 2005

In what Dave jokingly referred to as the "Super Bowl of Love," Oprah Winfrey made her first appearance on Late Show -- and her first on any Letterman show in over 16 years. At the end of her appearance, Letterman escorted her on-air across 53rd Streetmarker to the opening of "The Color Purple", the new Broadway show she was there to promote.

The episode, the fourth-most-watched in Late Show history, was followed 14 months later by a Super Bowl XLI Late Show promotion that featured her with Letterman, each wearing the jersey of the Super Bowl team from the city with which they are associated:

January 2, 2008

During the 2007-08 Writers Guild of America strike, the show went into reruns for two months. In late December 2007, Letterman's company, Worldwide Pants Incorporated, reached a contract agreement with the striking writers. This put Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson back on the air with their full staff of writers. The show opened with Hillary Clinton making a cameo appearance saying, "It has been two long months but Dave's back. Oh, well, all good things must come to an end."

Letterman returned sporting a full beard; Robin Williams was the first guest for the show's return— Letterman displayed a photograph of Williams on the picket line with Eric Stangel and Justin Stangel, two of the show's writers.

September 24, 2008

During the 2008 presidential election, Republican candidate John McCain was scheduled to appear as the first guest on Letterman's show, the first appearance since McCain informally announced his candidacy on the show months earlier. According to Letterman, McCain called him personally to inform Letterman that he would not be appearing on the show that day, but was instead on his way back to Washington, DCmarker to help draft a proposed bailout of the financial system to soften effects of the Financial crisis of 2007–2008. MSNBC show host Keith Olbermann (a longtime critic of McCain) became the replacement guest for the night.

Throughout the show, and especially during the monologue, Letterman made various jokes about the situation. During Olbermann's interview, Letterman cut to a live internal feed of that night's CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, when Couric was taping an interview with McCain during the same time of Letterman's show. When it came apparent to Letterman that McCain was not on his way back to Washington as he said he was, Letterman became visibly irritated. Although he knew McCain could not hear him, Letterman publicly said to McCain, "Hey John, I got a question, do you need a ride to the airport?" McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace later stated McCain canceled his appearance on Letterman because it "wasn't a night for comedy".

The episode also seemed to have an effect on internal CBS operations: both the Late Show and the CBS Evening News are aired on the network. According to the New York Post, unidentified CBS News executives were reportedly "aggravated" about the use of the feed. Also according to the report, CBS had no knowledge of the use of the feed until the finished Late Show episode was being fed internally for distribution

October 16, 2008

After canceling his September 24 appearance at the last minute, John McCain appeared on October 16. The episode attracted over 6.5 million viewers, three million more than his recent typical number of viewers and the best he has scored since Oprah Winfrey was a guest on Dec. 1, 2005.

January 30, 2009

Late Show aired the October 1, 1993 stand-up performance from comedian Bill Hicks, which Letterman chose to cut from the original broadcast as too controversial. Hicks' routine covered homosexuality, abortion, as well as his wish to murder then-popular musicians Billy Ray Cyrus, Michael Bolton, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Marky Mark. To help introduce the segment, Letterman invited Bill Hicks' mother, Mary, to be a guest on the show. Letterman apologized to Mrs. Hicks for having put her son and their family through the ordeal, especially as it was so soon before Hicks' untimely death from pancreatic cancer. Letterman declared he didn't know what he had been thinking when he pulled the routine from the original show and said, "It says more about me as a guy than it says about Bill because there was absolutely nothing wrong with it."

February 11, 2009

Late Show features an unusual interview with Joaquin Phoenix, there to promote Two Lovers. Phoenix was "sporting his Grizzly Adams beard, a black suit and dark Miami Beach grandma sunglasses" and "nervously chewed gum during the entire sitdown, often looking down as if asleep. He answered Letterman's queries with one or two befuddled words and acted surprised when the audience and host laughed at his apparent cluelessness." Daniel Kreps of Rolling Stone described Phoenix's appearance as "either Phoenix completely locked into his hoax character (the Bearded Rapper) or the most paranoid, drugged-out interview ever"; Kreps favored the hoax theory, noting that Phoenix repeatedly broke out of character, appeared to end the interview acknowledging Letterman for playing along, and noting that Casey Affleck, director of a documentary about "Phoenix’s hip-hop dream, was reportedly at the CBS studios yesterday, no doubt filming this landmark interview." Letterman humorously closed the interview with the line, "Joaquin, I'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight."

Entertainment Weekly pointed out that the interview was similar to one he did in October 2000 when he was there to promote his film The Yards. Back in 2000, executive producer Maria Pope commented on Phoenix's behavior: "The first couple of times we thought there was a gas leak in the greenroom. Now we've determined, no, that's just Joaquin." On the February 19, 2009 episode of The Late Show, Letterman told guest Barbara Walters that he believed Phoenix's performance was "a goof" but he "sure can take a punch".

July 15, 2009

Paul McCartney returned to the Ed Sullivan Theatermarker 45 years after the Beatles made their U.S. television debut there on The Ed Sullivan Show. McCartney was interviewed by Letterman, then moved outside to do a concert from the theater's marquee for a crowd of about 4000 people. The episode attracted 4.4 million viewers, about six percent of the 73.3 million that McCartney and the rest of the Beatles attracted in 1964 but 75% more than the 2.5 million watching The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien that same evening. Earlier that day, The Late Show received five Emmy nominations.

September 21, 2009

Letterman with President Obama.
President Barack Obama appeared on the Late Show, marking the first time that a sitting President of the United States appeared on the show, and only the second time a sitting president appeared on a late night talk show. In coming to the show, Obama had primarily purposed to defend and effectively communicate the widely disputed health care reform proposal in a light-hearted setting. He also discussed other topics of interest such as the Iraq war and objectives in Afghanistan. Obama had visited the Tonight Show with Jay Leno on March 19, 2009.

This show also helped lead the Late Show with David Letterman to record ratings, and big wins over rivals Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien and Nightline.

October 1, 2009

After his opening monologue, Letterman revealed to the audience that he was the victim of an extortion attempt and had to give grand jury testimony for a sting operation. The blackmailer had threatened to write a book and screenplay detailing sexual affairs the talkshow host had with female members of his staff and college student interns, who worked on "The Late Show" for college credit and to obtain high-profile work experience in the broadcasting industry. Letterman gave few details, except to say that he cooperated with police, wrote a "fake check" for $2,000,000, and that the blackmailer was apprehended. According to the New York Times, this segment was not transmitted via closed cicuit inside the CBS headquarters, where employees usually are able to watch the Letterman show live. The revelation of the extortion plot was national news ahead of the show airing, leading to a 22% surge in ratings.


Primetime Emmy Awards

  • 1993–94 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
  • 1997–98 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
  • 1998–99 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
  • 1999–00 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
  • 2000–01 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series
  • 2001–02 Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series

International broadcasts

Country TV Network(s) Weekly Schedule (local time)
Arab world MBC 4 Weeknights 3.00am
Australia Network Ten Weeknights 11.15pm
Australia The Comedy Channel Weeknights 12.00am
Bulgariamarker AXN Weekdays 12.00pm
Czech Republicmarker AXN Weeknights 12:00am
Mexicomarker American Network Weeknights 10.35pm
New Zealandmarker Prime Television Weeknights 11.00pm
Italymarker SKY Uno Weeknights 11.00pm
Finlandmarker MTV3 MAX Weeknights 11.35pm
Polandmarker AXN Weekdays 12.00pm
Denmarkmarker TV2 Zulu Weekdays and weeknights changing times
South Africa Sony Entertainment Television on Dstv Weekdays and weeknights 10:05 PM
The Netherlandsmarker Het Gesprek Weekdays 11:00 p.m.

See also


External links

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