Friday Fives > late night

Late night talk > in lieu of Conan’s almost last show being tonight, and Fallon taking over in a couple of weeks… let’s talk late night television.


Are you a Letterman of a Leno fan?

For content, Letterman.  However, it seems Letterman is perpetually in re-runs.  I enjoy Leno as well, but I grew up with Letterman.  Hell, I was at a Letterman show taping.  How long ago?  It was a morning show on NBC in the early 80’s.  True story, that is where my Gene Shalit story comes from.

Favorite Late Night memory (Letterman, Leno… whoever)

There isn’t much better than a celebrity meltdown.  Though I missed Farrah, I saw the Andy Kaufman episode, and the Crispin Glover one too.  Sadly, I didn’t see the Joaquin Phoenix one as it aired.  I have seen it about 25 times since though, seriously.  See below for discussion.  My favorite would have to be Hunter Thompson on Conan several years ago.  Just about the best thing ever.  Set a few minutes aside and watch, it’s only a four minute clip.

Craig Ferguson or Conan?

Well, though I am a big fan of Conan… I choose tv’s Craig Ferguson every night.  Funnier, and more my kind of humor.

Do you remember Carson?  Carson Daly?  Chevy Chase, Arsenio? Who was the best?

Prolly Carson.  However, I grew up watching Letterman.  Carson was speaking to a different generation.

Let’s just stop everything and talk about the whole Joaquin Phoenix incident on Letterman.  Drugs?  Hoax?  A ‘bit’?

Man, let me refill my drink before we broach this one.  First things first, watch this.  Watch it a lot.  Again.  Now, let’s talk.

So, uh… what just happened there?  I mean, I know drugs.  That isn’t drugs, unless it is all of them.  Also, it has nothing to do with ‘hip hop’.  There is no reason he couldn’t have been passionate and articulate about hip hop.  In fact, now that he has found his true calling… you think he would have lit up with joy about the whole thing.

Others have said it was a hoax, a publicity stunt.  I don’t see it, and here is why.  I mean, the guy is plenty talented to pull it off.  However, if it were a bit, Letterman wasn’t in on it.  So, that makes him look like an asshole.  If it turns out to be a hoax, I think it will backfire big time.   So, what was it?

Did he go crazy?  No.  I am positive.  Crazy doesn’t onset in early 30’s (he is 34, I think).  It hits late teens or early 20’s.

Ok, so, what would make us think it was a bit?  Well, he says he has totally and completely quit acting.  So then why is his brother in law, Oscar nominated Casey Affleck following him everywhere with a camera crew?  Affleck was on set filming the Letterman appearance, and was also at the famous Vegas clip where Phoenix falls off the stage a few weeks earlier.

Plus, there are a couple of extremely brief moments in that 9 minute interview where he was completely lucid.  Almost like he slipped out of character.

My feeling is about 70/30 that this guy is gone.  Dead within months.  However, if he is still alive in five years, I guarantee he will be in movies.   fact.  non negotiable.  Thoughts?

Friday Fives > late night tv edition

Who is your current favorite late night talk show person?

Craig Ferguson

who is your all time late night favorite talk show person

Letterman.  I was raised on Letterman.  When I was a kid, we went and saw the Letterman show in person in NYC.  How long ago was it?  Letterman’s show was a morning show, true story!  So, why would I betray Dave and vote for Craig above?   Well, Dave has gotten a bit stale for me.   Also, it seems like it is always in reruns.  Plus, Dave hired Craig and is his employer.   So, they remain critically linked.

do you have a favorite late night talk show memory?

yes, and it isn’t that one above.  Ok, there was one great memory from that day.  It was almost 30 years ago, so I have few memories.  This is one, though.  In the elevator up to the studio we shared space with Gene Shalit*.  Being 7 or 8 years old and seeing that man pretty much freaked me out for life.  I mean, seriously… he really looks like… well…  that.  However, since that was a morning show… we won’t use that memory.  So, here is this one.  I went to LA years ago on vacation and we were offered free tickets to see Arsenio Hall’s late night show tape.  We went that night and they were oversold.  The nice production assistant lady told me if we came back the next night we would be front row.

well, you are thinking that was showbiz hokum and they screwed us.  Not the case at all.  We came back the next day and his producer recognized us and put us in the very front row.  This was awesome, because tv studios are WAY smaller than they look on TV.  We were just a few feet away from the whole thing.  Not only were we on national tv (they pan through the front row as part of the intro every night), but the guests were awesome!  We got to see Dennis Miller (when he was funny, not a Republican douchebag apologist) and Anna Nicole Smith.

So, what’s going to happen next year when Leno steps down?

I think a huge shake up will roll through the industry.  I think it can be compared to a couple of years ago when all three big network night news guys stepped down almost simultaneously:  Dan Rather, Ted Koppel, and Peter Jennings.   30 or 40 years each, and they all disappeared almost overnight.  I literally think it will be like that.  Letterman will walk away and John Stewart will drop in there somewhere.

also, though everyone likes to make fun of him from MTV, Carson Daly is great.  Seriously, he has a great future.  He is a genuine, funny, and smart dude.

who would be a great talk show host, beside yourself, famous or otherwise?

Bobby Weir from the Grateful Dead.  He is passionate and articulate. He is funny and interesting. He is also really weird, and being in the Grateful Dead for 40 years, dude must have some AMAZING stories.  He would have to shave the beard, though.  It is super creepy.

* now remember.  Many things have happened to you in your life.  Many bad and horrible things.  There are things you know about that you would give anything to make never happen.  Being in an elevator with Gene Shalit is exactly like that.  Mostly, at night, I just cry.