17th September 2001 – The first show back after 9/11 attacks
David Letterman was the first chat show host to return to the airwaves following the attacks.
The first show back after 9/11 started with an opening shot of the American flag, which then went to a very quiet Ed Sullivan Theatre.
There were no opening titles to this show.
Dave started the show from behind his desk – not the usual monologue standing position.
Throughout the monologue, and throughout the entire show, Dave was very emotional and the show had a very different feel to it.
“The reason we were attacked, the reason these people are dead, these people are missing and dead. They weren’t doing anything wrong, they were living their lives, they were going to work, they were traveling, they were doing what they normally do. Er as I understand it, and my understanding of this is vague at best, another smaller group of people stole some airplanes and crashed them into buildings. And we’re told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor – religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamned sense?”
Ever since September 2001, the Late Show has been introduced as “From New York – the greatest city in the world” – the opening titles were also changed as they used to feature the World Trade Center.
Dan Rather, Regis Philbin and Tori Amos were the guests on this 17th September show.
Dan Rather was also very emotional, and he asked Dave to go to a commercial break before he broke down on air.
Dave did mention “thank God Regis is here so we have something to make fun of” and there was a dulled laugh from the audience.
19th January 2010 – Letterman talks about The Tonight Show
David Letterman talked about Conan O’Brien’s departure from The Tonight Show over on NBC and discussed his feelings on the whole situation, including Leno returning to hosting duties at Tonight.
February 2010 – Super Bowl commercial with Letterman, Leno and Oprah
David Letterman and Jay Leno have appeared together in a Super Bowl commercial with Oprah Winfrey. Reportedly they wanted Conan to appear as well, but he didn’t. I think this is the first time Letterman and Leno have been on TV together in many years since the high-profile Tonight Show debacle of the 1990s. Jay and Dave used to be quite good friends and Leno would make appearances on Dave’s talk show from time to time. The commercial which aired the 2010 Super Bowl on CBS showed David Letterman, Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey sitting on a couch watching the Super Bowl (in a similar scene to Dave & Oprah’s previous Super Bowl commercial a while back) with Dave saying “this is the worst Super Bowl party ever” and Leno replying “you’re only saying that because I’m here”. Very unexpected to see them sitting on the same couch after all this time. Also even more unexpected to see Leno in the commercial which has a promotion strap for the Late Show With David Letterman at the end considering his return to The Tonight Show in March 2010. The commercial was filmed in the balcony of the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York and it’s reported Leno arrived in a disguise to avoid being noticed by people outside.
February 2007 – Super Bowl commercial with Letterman and Oprah
Dave and Oprah were reunited on screen once again in this Super Bowl 2007 commercial – it was the “Super Bowl Of Love”. Oprah Winfrey had previously made her first appearance on the Late Show back in December 2005.
13th October 2009 – Tom Hanks and “the Tom button”
Tom Hanks was a surprise guest on the 13th October 2009 edition of the Late Show With David Letterman. When Dave noticed there was a button on his desk that he’d never seen before, he pressed it and Tom Hanks appeared – it was “the Tom button”! Each time Dave pressed it, Tom wouild appear as an emergency guest.
6th October 2009 – Paul Shaffer interview
Late Show band leader Paul Shaffer appeared as a guest on the show in October 2009 to promote his memoirs called “We’ll Be Here For The Rest Of Our Lives”.
September 2009 – Madonna returns to the Late Show
In this latest interview she seemed more subdued than in previous appearances and discussed her relationship with US sports star A-Rod, her marriage to Guy Ritchie & whether she’d ever want to remarry (for the record she would “rather get run over by a train”) and her infamous 1994 appearance. She also asked Dave not to call her ‘Madge’ as it makes her sound “boring and middle-aged”. At the end of the interview – as Madonna said she had never eaten a New York pizza before – Dave and Madonna dined at Angelo’s Pizza next door to the theatre (he whisked her off during the taping and they enjoyed a slice of pizza – without cheese – in front of the crowd who were peering in from outside).
September 2009 – President Barack Obama’s interview
US President Barack Obama made an appearance on the Late Show With David Letterman on the 21st September 2009 – the first time a US President has appeared on the programme whilst still in office. When the President came out onto the stage he was greeted by a standing ovation. Obama discussed the financial crisis saying “we’re not going to recover overnight”. He mostly spoke about the health care reform programme and when asked if people’s objections to it were racist views, he said “I was actually black before the election” and “one of the things you sign up for in politics is that folks yell at you”. Security was tight at the Ed Sullivan Theatre – Dave joked the security was “tighter than Joan Rivers’ face”. At one point during his appearance he accepted a heart-shaped potato from an audience member.
September 2009 – Former British PM Tony Blair’s appearance
The former British prime minister visited the Late Show on Tuesday 8th September 2009 and discussed what he’s been doing since leaving Downing Street – including the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the work he’s been undertaking as a Middle East envoy and the lectures he’s given – as well as his time as British prime minister and the decisions he had to make, with regards to the Iraq war and how the world changed after the 9/11 attacks in New York (of which it was the 8th year anniversary of the attacks that week).
Dave & Regis have a chat on the Late Show marquee
David Letterman and Regis Philbin had a chat on top of the Late Show With David Letterman marquee after the 26th August 2009 episode of the Late Show. This ties in with what they were talking about during Regis’s Late Show interview previously, whereby Dave suggested they sat on the Ed Sullivan Theatre marquee after every show with cigars and discuss the week’s events.
July 2009 – Paul McCartney’s appearance
Paul McCartney appeared on the Late Show in July 2009. In addition to the interview, he did an historic performance on top of the Late Show marquee outside.
27th April 2009 – Alan Kalter meets his son
In a comedy bit, Alan Kalter meets his son for the first time. “Is that you Pa?”
March 2009 – David Letterman gets married to Regina Lasko
After many many years, David Letterman finally tied the knot with long-term girlfriend Regina Lasko on the 19th March 2009 at the Teton County Courthouse in Choteau, Montana. On the Monday show the following week (Monday 23rd March) Dave made the news public on the Late Show.
February 2009 – Joaquin Phoenix interview
Joaquin was behaving very strangely and only responding to Letterman’s questions briefly – sometimes with only a few words. The actor has announced he’s giving up acting to launch a rap music career. Joaquin has changed his appearance dramaitcally since starring in Walk The Line – he now sports a full beard. There has been some suggestion the whole thing is an act and he’s really being like this for a Hollywood mockumentary like Spinal Tap as he’s been filmed a lot recently led by Casey Affleck. When he was confronted about this elsewhere recently he replied “there’s not a hoax… might I be ridiculous… might my career in music be laughable? Yeah, that’s possible, but that’s certainly not my intention”. When he become a bit less despondent during the Late Show interview, he mentioned how he’d like to come back on and perform some of his new songs at some point, but Letterman said “that seems unlikely… I’ll keep you in our Rolodex”. Another bizarre moment in the interview was when Phoenix asked Dave what happened to his thumb. Dave said “it’s just a little cuticle mishap”. Letterman closed with “Joaquin, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight”.
February 2009 – Heroes of Flight 1549
The crew of Flight 1549 – the plane that made an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River on the 15th January – appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman to tell their remarkable story how they managed to get everyone off the flight safely without any fatalities.
Matt Damon’s Matthew McConaughey impersonation
Jay Thomas and the Lone Ranger Story
1st December 2005 – The Oprah Winfrey interview
This was the reunion we had all been waiting for – Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman.
Dave called it the “Superbowl Of Love”.
There had been a rumoured ‘feud’ between Dave and Oprah for many years since around 1995 – the year Dave hosted the Oscars ceremony and did the infamous “Uma, Oprah” routine.
Oprah is reported to have been “completely uncomfortable” as the punchline for many of Dave’s jokes in the 1990s.
This reunion in 2005 seems to have ironed out any problems and they are now best of friends.
The show was a huge ratings success as well.
November 2006 – Richard Simmons returns to the Late Show
In 2006, fitness guru Richard Simmons returned to the Late Show to promote his new steamer. Richard hadn’t been on Dave’s show for some time – he used to be a bit of a regular on there going out to do on-location segments and other things, but I think Dave got a little irritated by him so he stopped being on the Late Show. In this return in 2006, Richard had brought a demo model of his new steamer to show everyone, but little did he know something was about to go wrong.
November 2006 – Michael Richards apologises for racial slur
September 2007 – Paris Hilton
Dave working at the McDonalds drive-thru
Warren Zevon’s last appearance on the Late Show
Musician Warren Zevon’s last appearance before his death, was a poignant show. Warren was the only guest on the Late Show that evening. The show was broadcast on 30th October 2002. Warren spoke about his illness and said he should have got checked out sooner, and he also performed several songs. The famous phrase “Enjoy every sandwich” came from this episode when Dave asked Warren if he had any advice for us.
February 2000 – David Letterman’s return to the Late Show after his heart surgery
On the 21st February 2000 show, Dave returned to the air following his quintuple heart bypass surgery. In the leadup to this date, there were several guest hosts for the Late Show whilst Dave recovered. Guest hosts included Drew Barrymore, Ray Romano, Robin Williams, Megan Mullally, Bill Murray, Regis Philbin, Charles Grodin, Nathan Lane, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Jerry Seinfeld, Martin Short, Danny DeVito, Steve Martin and Sarah Jessica Parker. Dave also helped Regis Philbin out when Regis had his heart surgery a few years later.
Guest hosts in 2003
Dave had a severe case of shingles in February 2003. Guest hosts took over the show for Letterman. These guest hosts included Bill Cosby, Brad Garrett, Elvis Costello, John McEnroe, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Bonnie Hunt, Luke Wilson. Tom Arnold and Kelsey Grammer – as well as other hosts – guest hosted Friday shows for several weeks following Dave’s return.
March 2007 – Adam Sandler guest hosts
Dave was feeling ill, so Adam Sandler – who had been scheduled as a guest on the show – was asked to take over hosting duties for one night only. It was the first time Adam Sandler had hosted a TV show and he was a little nervous. He brought his dog Matzoball with him. He interviewed Don Cheadle on this show, who was also scheduled as a guest like Adam.
31st January 2005 – The first show back since Johnny Carson passed away
The former host of The Tonight Show – Johnny Carson – passed away in January 2005 and the first show back after his death was very emotional for Dave. Johnny was Dave’s idol and mentor, and it was often thought Johnny wanted Dave to take over The Tonight Show from him and not Jay Leno. Johnny appeared on Letterman’s show several times, but never appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Dave also appeared several times on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As a tribute to Johnny Carson, some of the jokes in tonight’s Late Show monologue were written by Johnny. Dave said many things about Johnny in this show – “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”. They also included the theme tune from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson after the monologue.
31st March 1994 – Madonna’s appearance on Letterman
Madonna’s controversial interview aired in March 1994. She swore 13 times and she was being awkward throughout the interview. Producers of the show had to cut to commercials and show filler rmaterial because she swore so much. At the end of the interview, Madonna refused to leave but, when they came back from the break, she was gone. Madonna also appeared on the Late Show in 2005 and 2007.
Bill O’Reilly on the Late Show
When Bill O’Reilly came on the show, Dave grilled him on his views about Weapons Of Mass Destruction, Iraq and George W. Bush. Dave said to Bill “”60% of what you say is crap”.
2000 – George W. Bush on Letterman
George W. Bush appeared on the Late Show just before he was elected as US President in 2000. At one point in the interview – just as they were on commercial break – George Bush seemed to clean his glasses on Barbara Gaines’s (Late Show producer) clothes. George also did the Top Ten list.
2nd January 2008 – The first show back after the WGA writers strike
After two months of reruns due to the WGA writers strike in 2007-2008, Dave had reached a separate deal with the writers, meaning the Late Show could return to the air with new episodes.
The deal also meant the Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson could return, as this is also made by Letterman’s production company – Worldwide Pants Inc.
Dave returned to the air with his ‘strike beard’ and he made several references to it throughout the show.
Robin Williams and Ellen Page were guests on this show.
Hillary Clinton also made a pre-recorded appearance briefly saying it has been two long months but Dave’s back and that all good things must come to an end.
Dave mentioned the writers strike throughout the show and said he fully supported it.
14th May 2004 – The 4am Show
Amy Sedaris, rat expert Robert Sullivan and musicians Modest Mouse were guests on a special edition of the Late Show, which was taped at 4am for broadcast the next evening in the usual timeslot.
The idea came about when Rob Burnett said “things seem funnier when you’re really, really tired”.
Amy Sedaris wasn’t in the Theatre building for her interview, but was out in her neighbourhood to give us a tour to show what it’s like there at 4am.