David Letterman Prepares for Last ‘Late Show’

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After a 33-years-long marathon of shows, David Letterman has decided it is time to retire and leave it to the next generation. In an interview with Jane Pauley, when asked about his future, he said he can picture himself in television, but not with CBS, because he would not want to return to the Ed Sullivan Theater studios and see another person taking his place.

The Late Show ends an incredible run of 6,028 shows, and the last performance will be aired by CBS on May 20. The first broadcast of the show dates back to the early 80s with NBC, and was Late Night With David Letterman. The first guest of the show was Bill Murray, who appeared on Feb. 1, 1982, has since counted 44 more appearances on the show, and who will be among the last Late Show guests. On Aug. 30, 1993, the show moved to CBS, and again Bill Murray was the first guest. But as the co-author of the show, Merrill Markoe recalls, they have maintained the DNA of the NBC experience – a goofy, giddy and genuine comedy style from the text books, which is entertaining and sober at the same time, like the host, Letterman, is in real life.

Speaking about his early years of the show, Letterman recounts in his interview with Jane Pauley that he had serious alcohol problems which started when he was only 11. But after going in and out of the Ed Sullivan Theater, after lots of shows with NBC, he tells Pauley that he remembers saying to himself how foolish he was to land such a great opportunity, and risk drinking it all away. When he was 34, he decided to simply quit drinking, and since then he never had a drink again. About the last three shows on CBS, Letterman said he wants to have every detail fresh in his mind before he leaves – all the corners of the Ed Sullivan studio and all of the snapshots, which is why he will use the commercial breaks to notice, for the last time, how the set of the Late Show is like.

Preparing for the last three Late Show, Letterman will host special guests and the show will be full of surprises. To make it a show to be remembered, Letterman will invite all of his old pals. Bill Murray will appear on Tuesday, May 19, although he does not count as many appearances on the Late Show as Tom Hanks, who will be the guest on Monday, and who has been on the set of the Late Show 60 times. On Monday, May 18, the show will have guest Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, one of the long-running guests of the Late Show, who will perform together with the Paul Shaffer CBS Orchestra. Vedder’s first performance on the show was in 1996, and Letterman has sung before on Pearl Jam’s song, Black.

In heartbreaking and emotional scenes, various celebrities have shown in their own way their regrets that the Late Show will come to an end. George Clooney handcuffed himself to Letterman, while Julia Roberts kissed him goodbye for the last time, a kiss which recalled the previous flirty smooches they shared on the show over the years.

Last but not least, rumors circulated that Letterman will not invite his frenemy, the previous host of the Tonight Show, Jay Leno. He declined Jay Leno’s invitation to appear on his show in February 2014, and because of this, many speculated he would not invite Leno for the last Late Show episode. Despite these speculations, Jay Leno is on the guest list of the last Late Show. The preparations for the last Late Show seem to be over, even if everyone knows the last three shows will be mind-blowing, and above any kind of expectations.

The Late Show will now have as host Stephen Colbert, who will be starting later this year, to carry on the legacy of the elderly statesman of late night talk shows, David Letterman. Although losing a great entertainer, the Late Show will continue be a source of inspiration for other hosts, like Conan O’Brien, who inherited Late Night when Letterman left NBC. After Jon Stewart leaves The Daily Show in a few weeks, Conan O’Brien will be the last old guardian of the late night shows.

By Lucky Graziano


TIME – Merrill Markoe: My Favorite Moments of ‘Late Night With David Letterman’

NY Daily News – David Letterman’s final ‘Late Show’ guests announced… or are they?

CBS News – David Letterman: ‘I’m not going away’

Photo Courtesy of Brandon I. Flickr Page – Creative Commons License