The Late Show with David Letterman is an Emmy Award-winning American late-night talk show hosted by David Letterman on CBS. The show debuted on August 30, 1993. It 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 (the show had previously recorded the Friday episodes on Thursdays). Each show is recapped in The Wahoo Gazette by production coordinator Mike McIntee on CBS.com's Late Show page
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.
Transition from NBC to CBS
Letterman's decision to leave NBC was largely provoked by the network's decision in 1992 to have comedian Jay Leno
succeed Johnny Carson
as host of The Tonight Show
. Letterman, Carson, and many others had long assumed that Letterman's years of service to NBC would be sufficient to result in him becoming the new host, but NBC ultimately chose Leno, likely due to Letterman's consistent public mockery of NBC executives in the past, as well as a belief that Leno would have more mainstream appeal. Letterman was reportedly angry and disappointed at NBC for not giving him the job on The Tonight Show, and at Johnny Carson's advice, Letterman left the NBC network after 11 years on Late Night. NBC later explained that Dave's high ratings were the reason the network kept him where he was. Conan O'Brien later replaced Letterman on Late Night
Many erroneously still refer to Letterman's current show as Late Night, often resulting in Letterman or fans pointing out that while Late Night still exists, it airs on NBC and is hosted in its current incarnation by Conan O'Brien, whom Letterman has often publicly supported as his successor (Late Night is now co-produced by Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video and O'Brien's Conaco).
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 then responded, "Who would have thought you would ever hear the words 'intellectual property' and 'NBC' at the same time."
Ratings-wise, Letterman's Late Show would enjoy a consistent domination over Leno's Tonight Show in its first few years. Leno won the audience back on July 10 1995, starting with a Hugh Grant interview, after Grant's much-publicized arrest for picking up an LA prostitute.
At times Letterman would even come in third in the late night timeslot behind Nightline (most recent occurrence happened in August 2006), prompting him at one point to arrange for a Manhattan 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. Despite ratings, the Late Show remains one of CBS's most profitable programs.
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 (and perhaps frustrating) 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.
When Letterman is not on vacation (which as of 2002, occurred ten weeks/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 at least 2007 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.
- Early shows included a cold open, which featured Letterman in a baseball cap interacting with a celebrity. This practice was revived, albeit irregularly, in the summer of 2006. It often features Letterman in the green room, without a jacket on, talking to a Late Show staffer — usually former writer Gerard Mulligan or executive producer Jude Brennan — with Letterman being the butt of a joke.
- The show's opening credits feature a series of shots of New York City (which have changed over the years) as the CBS Orchestra performs the Late Show theme (a livelier variation of the more jazzy Late Night theme). Announcer Alan Kalter proclaims "From New York: the greatest city in the world! It's the Late Show with David Letterman!" "The greatest city in the world" line was permanently added to the opening shortly after 9/11, replacing a gag. Kalter announces the names of that night's guests, as well as Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. Kalter finally introduces Letterman with a humorous modification, such as "And now, the one-stop shop for all your bridal needs: David Letterman!"
- Letterman then walks out on the show stage to perform his monologue, which often begins with an inside reference to something an audience member said to him during the pre-show Q&A; the scripted monologue jokes are usually based on pop culture, current events, and politics. The monologue is followed by Letterman's introduction of Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, who then perform briefly. On most nights, Letterman will walk to his desk where 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. He then explains who the scheduled guests are.
- The show usually then transitions to a series of brief sketch comedy bits, which often consist of humorous commercials, disclaimers, video clips, or props. As of the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike hiatus, common skits include "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" that display FDR and Kennedy making speeches, then George W. Bush making a mistake in his speech. They are then followed by a more elaborate live or pre-taped skit, although the skit (such as "Small Town News" and "Fun Facts") has been preceded by a commercial break.
During the summer of 2008, the "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" segment was moved to the end of the monologue.Act 2
- After returning from a commercial break, Letterman often reads the Top Ten List at this point before turning to guest interviews with a celebrity, politician, or public figure. On some nights Act 2 is instead dedicated to another comedy segment involving guest participants, such as Stupid Pet Tricks or Kid Scientists.Act 3
- On most nights, 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.Act 4
- This segment is sometimes dedicated to a second scheduled guest. Occasionally, this guest is actually carried over from Act 3 and given two segments, with the first guest only being given one. On other nights, Act 4 will instead be dedicated to Letterman presenting either a Top Ten List or comedy bit involving a crew member.Act 5
- This segment often consists of an "audience sweep," where a camera pans across the applauding audience from side to side. A brief comedy bit or announcement, usually involving Kalter, is then superimposed over the sweep. In earlier episodes, Letterman would return to his running gag during this break, or retry a failed stunt from earlier in the show.Act 6
- The final guest of the show is usually featured here. In most instances, this consists of a live musical performance, although it may instead be dedicated to another interview, or a guest comedian performing a stand-up routine on the stage. The CBS Orchestra frequently assists musical guests in performing their songs.Act 7
- The episode concludes with Letterman at his desk, who then will often comment to Shaffer on the final guest, or that night's episode in general. He will then thank all the guests who appeared before announcing the next night's guests. Letterman then ends the show, usually saying "Good night everybody!" As the CBS Orchestra is seen performing the Late Show theme, a truncated closing credit sequence consisting of only copyright and ticket information is presented. On rare occasions when time allows, a full credit sequence listing the show's entire crew is shown. After the closing, a Worldwide Pants production logo is displayed with an authoritative but non-sequitur voice-over, such as "Mmm... waffles."
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 in 1995
. He was replaced by Alan Kalter on the show's next episode which came after a two-week hiatus.
In 1996, Letterman reluctantly fired long-time producer Robert Morton as the result of various professional disputes, including an apparent botched attempt to move the show to ABC in place of Nightline. 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."
The show began broadcasting in high definition
on August 29
. 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.
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 'Dave gag' is 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 disinterest, 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 British 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. 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.
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.
"Friends of the Late Show"
Many frequently invited guests have gone on to become favorites of the show, displaying an on-air friendship with Letterman that sets them apart from the more typical interview subjects. Perhaps most prominent among these are Charles Grodin
and Regis Philbin
, who will often bicker with Letterman about their respective personal relationships. Philbin has made more appearances on the Late Show
than any other guest in the show's history.
Other notable guests include Bonnie Hunt (with whom Letterman co-produced two short-lived sitcoms),
Bill Murray (who has the distinction of appearing on the first episodes of both Late Night and the Late Show), Marv Albert (who had the most Late Night appearances), musical group Foo Fighters (whom Letterman had personally requested to perform during his first show after heart bypass surgery in 2000), and Warren Zevon (who was featured as the only guest in his final appearance prior to his death in 2003).
Some guests, particularly Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, and Bruce Willis, will often take the effort to accompany their appearances on the show with a pre-arranged routine or bit (such as when Willis put dots on his face to satirize Dick Cheney's recent hunting incident and Hanks' wearing one of Letterman's sport jackets and a pair of his loafers, claiming his wife was to blame for the accidental clash of fashions), or will appear elsewhere in the show in a skit. Martin Short will often conclude his interviews with a comedic musical number on stage.
Other favorite guests who have frequently appeared include Drew Barrymore, Ricky Gervais, Matthew Broderick, Tom Brokaw, Richard Simmons, Frank Caliendo (sometimes in character as John Madden or George W. Bush), Harry Connick, Jr., Penn & Teller, Johnny Depp, Elvis Costello, Billy Crystal, Jack Hanna, Jennifer Lopez, Paul Newman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tony Randall, Julia Roberts, Ray Romano, Isabella Rossellini, Amy Sedaris, Jerry Seinfeld, Martha Stewart, Howard Stern and Robin Williams.
Some of Letterman's personal comedian friends who have often appeared on the show include Jeff Altman, Tom Dreesen, George Miller, Bob Sarlatte, Jimmie Walker and John Witherspoon.
R.E.M., who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2007, made their international television debut on Late Night on October 6, 1983, just three years into their career. To date, they have appeared on Letterman's show six times.
For Halloween, Letterman stands in a house-like set on stage, where he answers a door and greets a series of trick-or-treaters
dressed in elaborate, humorous costumes (a recent example being a giant Bluetooth
headset). The children are then given "treats" which have consisted of unusual items such as Lipitor
, useless Yankees World Series
tickets, and a tote bag from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Every Thanksgiving, Letterman visits his mother (Dorothy Mengering
) at her Indiana home via satellite, and tries to guess the two pies
she has baked for her family dinner. Letterman will also show footage of that year's company Thanksgiving party, which often includes a particular clip from a previous party in which Letterman serves food while dressed in a pilgrim
costume. There was no show in 2007 due to the WGA Strike.
With the exception of 2007 as a result of the Writers Guild of America strike, many "Christmas traditions" have been part of the show's annual tradition with some even being carried over from the Late Night
Since 1986, Letterman has invited musician Darlene Love to perform "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on the final new episode of the Late Show with David Letterman before Christmas. The song is always performed with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra, with the band being augmented by additional strings and other instruments, as well as a full choir. Love first performed the song on Late Night with David Letterman in 1986. Letterman has stated that the annual performance is his favorite part of Christmas, and that Love's rendition is " the only Christmas song anyone needs."
Letterman will often dedicate a segment to toy expert Shannon Eis, who demonstrates many of the newer toys that will be available during the upcoming season. The main appeal of the segment is Letterman's tendency to engage in horseplay with the various toys on display.
Paul Shaffer will often perform a brief rendition of Cher singing "O Holy Night" from an episode of her 1970s variety show. Shaffer sets up the bit with a straight-faced introduction before breaking into a humorous impersonation. This has been performed on-and-off since the Late Night years.
Letterman will also have local pizza-maker Joe G, gift shop proprietors Mujibur & Sirajul, and Hello Deli proprietor Rupert Jee top the Late Show Christmas tree with a pizza, Statue of Liberty miniature, and meatball, respectively.
Each Christmas, Letterman and comedian Jay Thomas will then throw footballs at the tree from across the stage, attempting to knock the meatball off the top. This tradition began in 1998 when Letterman and NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde threw footballs at a pastrami sandwich from the top of a tree but failed repeatedly. This prompted Thomas - who had been a guest earlier - to run out and take a shot, succeeding on his first try. The tradition of Thomas and Letterman throwing footballs at the tree (along with Thomas' retelling of his encounter with The Lone Ranger) has continued every year since then.
March 31, 1994
On March 31
, 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. At the end of the interview, when Madonna refused to leave, Letterman cut to a break, and when they returned, Madonna was gone because they literally kicked her out of the studio. 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 Dave 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, Dave 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.
September 20, 1996
In early September 1996, it was announced that The 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 21, 2000
On January 14, Letterman made on The Late Show
the announcement 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 52). Soon it was discovered that he had blocked arteries and had to undergo a quintuple bypass
. During his hiatus, the show had been off the air for a few weeks after which, while he was still recovering the show was being hosted by guests for the following weeks. On his first show after recovering, Dave 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, a problem typical to heart surgery patients, during the show, Dave seemed to find humor in his situation; while referring to one of his nurses, Dave said: "This woman saw me naked!". He continued to joke about the event for weeks after his return.
- See also David Letterman's heart surgery.
September 17, 2001
On September 17
, David Letterman was the first major American
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:
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. Uh, 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?
His first guest that night was then-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather, who was also very emotional and spoke with feeling about the courage of firefighters as well as reading verses from the song, America the Beautiful. Dave 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 musical guest that night was Tori Amos, who performed a cover of Tom Waits' "Time." She was one of the few major artists willing to perform in such a public venue so soon after 9/11. Letterman was visibly affected by her performance after he went over to greet her when she finished.
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!" (Whenever there is a guest host, Alan Kalter omits "The Greatest City in the World.") Also, the opening shot of the credits, a view of Battery Park and the World Trade Center, was changed to an aerial shot of the Empire State Building.
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."
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 which he grew during his hiatus and opened the show by declaring that "It's been two months but I'm finally out of rehab." The Top 10 List consisted of demands by striking writers. Robin Williams was the first guest for the show's return.
September 24, 2008
During the 2008 presidential election
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, DC
to help draft a proposed bailout of the financial system
to soften effects of the Financial crisis of 2007–2008
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 Nicole Wallace later stated McCain canceled his appearance on Letterman because it "wasn't a night for comedy." A video of the incident has reached over 3 million views on YouTube, as of September 27, 2008 .
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
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