Skip to main content

tv   CNN Special Report  CNN  May 23, 2015 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

4:00 pm
thank you so much for joining me. i want to wish our veterans a very happy memorial day. don't forget, you can follow me on twitter if you can spell smerconish, i'll see you next week. >> announcer: the following is a cnn special report. i happen to be the most powerful man in american broadcasting. >> there really was no separation. it was spontaneous. >> dave created the anti-show. >> david letterman! >> i have more memories of the letterman show than of my own life at that time. >> before kimmel, conan, seth, or fallon, there was dave.
4:01 pm
the king of quips. >> hi, and welcome to the damn show. >> and outrageous pranks. >> it's hard to say what his influence is not. p hello, this is blackmail. >> a late-night legend signs off. >> what this means now is that paul and i can be married. a cnn special report, david letterman says good night. >> i still have to do things like answer viewer mail letters. >> viewer mail. >> dear david, what's the deal with the sneaksneakers? well, we decided this letter should be answered in person. >> david letterman's trademark
4:02 pm
bit. it was 1966 and steve o'donnell was a writer for dave's show. >> if we would get a letter that seemed provocative enough, we would seek them out. >> i think this is the house. >> just one scexample of how da changed the game. >> let's see if colleen is home. let me just ring the bell here. doesn't appear that anyone's home. >> four years into its run on nbc, "late night" was both clever and unconventional. >> can you show us around the place and maybe show us some of your sister's stuff. >> in the closet? >> yeah. >> the brother showed up, and he showed us the girl's room. >> let's take a look at her footwear. >> a lot of high-heeled shoes. >> then took us to where she worked at the mall. >> are you colleen boyle? >> oh, my god. >> and that was a kind of model for spontaneous kind of guerilla tv making. >> at the time, that was electric. >> conan o'brien could barely believe it. >> it just wasn't something you ever saw, the idea of johnny
4:03 pm
carson going into someone's house. dave, you have to remember, was wearing like the pleated pants and the adidas. it was all coming from a completely different angle. >> didn't he mow her lawn? >> i think he did. the fact he walked out of the tv and was going through people's stuff in their room had a huge impact on me. >> had a huge impact on pop culture, comedy and all the show that's would come after his. not bad for a boy next door from indianapolis, indiana. his dad harry was a florist, his mom dorothy a church secretary. his mother later wrote a cookbook filled with photos of dave and his two sisters an all-american family who loved a good laugh and watching television. >> our household was full of arthur godfrey productions. >> these boys that don't do anything, they just sit in those chairs and keep them warm. >> i can just remember being fascinated by when they would
4:04 pm
open the television part of the simulcast, there was something about the microphone and the earphones and the equipment that i found fascinating. >> dave was a good ball player, but at broad rip will elple hig, not a great student. >> i remember doing so poorly my mom was very upset about it and she said, we're going to try to get you into a trade school. i was not able to keep up. andsemester i took a public speaking course and i realized, this might be my lifeline. i might be able to turn this into doing something. >> at ball state university dave turn td into his major. >> he decided to be a speech major in college. >> author bill carter has covered the tv industry for more than 25 years. >> he wasn't a student or anything. he joined the radio station. then he comes out of college and becomes a local weatherman and goofy weatherman. >> the higherups have removed the border between indiana and ohio making it one giant state. personally, i'm against it. >> when a tropical storm became
4:05 pm
a hurricane, i would wish her well. they didn't like that sort of thing because it would later go on to destroy millions of dollars of property. >> dave wasn't exactly suited for news, but he was suited for comedy. so at 21 years old, he married his college sweetheart michelle cook and headed out to hollywood. >> she was a steady, lovely girl apparently, totally supportive of him, his dreams at that point. a lot of people didn't even know he had a first marriage, but he said he behaved badly right away because these young girls were so smitten with him. >> as dave began building an audience on l.a. stand-up circuit, his marriage fell apart. >> i just got back from reno, stayed in a cheap condominium. when everybody got in the jacuzzi, we had to take turns going -- >> in 1975, dave talked about the struggles of stand-up. >> so you go into a comedy store and you do real well. you get done and you're pretty
4:06 pm
excited for about five or ten minutes and you say, wait a minute, you just made 80 drunk people laugh. >> what waes the difference? >> he was ironic. he had a sort of detachment. he was very cool and verbal. >> by 1978, he hit the big-time. >> here's johnny! >> a guest spot with his long-time idol. >> if your dog is kons ticonsti why xrup screw up a good thing, huh? >> he was the biggest guy in television and i was a kid who had followed the beacon of his light coming out of burr bank. to be on his show was endlessly nerve-racking. >> there was a fire not too long ago and i lost an entire set of dishes. you know, paper burns. >> just like that. >> but johnny carson will fell hard for dave. >> always a former house. formerly owned by dorothy
4:07 pm
lamore's cousin. >> i think squeaky used to live in the place i got. >> they could really banter. he became a protege, which was hard to do with johnny. >> i have a feeling you're going to be working a lot outside the comedy store. >> thank you. >> after just a few appearances, taste went from guest -- >> johnny's guest host tonight is david letterman. >> -- to guest host and became a network favorite. >> it's the david letterman show live. >> nbc execs were so smitten in 1980 dave got his own morning talk show. veteran tv director hal gurney. >> it wasn't fun to begin with. there was no room for musical acts. anybody who came in, it was like a sitcom. people would come in through a door. >> our very own staff member rich hall with a gardening hint will be here. >> it was wildly inappropriate for his style. >> when we return, a devastating blow for dave letterman. >> mr. letterman was sure we were doomed, like it was the end of everything. thanks for the ride around
4:08 pm
norfolk! and i just wanted to say, geico is proud to have served the military for over 75 years! roger that. captain's waiting to give you a tour of the wisconsin now. could've parked a little bit closer... it's gonna be dark by the time i get there. geico. proudly serving the military for over 75 years. something we do to show resolve. to defend ourselves. to declare victory. so cvs health provides expert support and vital medicines. at our infusion centers or
4:09 pm
in patients homes. we help them fight the good fight. cvs health, because health is everything. why do we do it? why do we spend every waking moment, thinking about people? why are we so committed to keeping you connected? why combine performance with a conscience? why innovate for a future without accidents? why do any of it? why do all of it? because if it matters to you, it's everything to us.
4:10 pm
the xc60 crossover. from volvo. lease the well equiped volvo xc60 today. visit your local volvo showroom for details. when you do business everywhere, the challenges of keeping everyone working together can quickly become the only thing you think about. that's where at&t can help. with the tools and the network you need, to make working as one easier than ever. virtually anywhere. leaving you free to focus on what matters most.
4:11 pm
david letterman! >> that's david letterman, hosting a live morning talk show in 1980. >> make the thing make noises for us. first of all, why do you have this stuff? >> and this was one of the few people who was watching. >> everything about it was arresting. >> electronic wizard.
4:12 pm
>> conan o'brien, then in high school. >> and it's very hard to explain that to people today. this guy was 180 degrees different from anything you had seen in that kind of format. >> would you like a tissue? >> thank you. >> the whole thing felt wrong/perfect. >> maybe perfect for conan but a poor fit for the time slot. after four months, david letterman was canceled. he thought his career was over. >> he was about as devastated as you could be. i think he remained for a lot of his career consumed with self-doubt. >> but nbc brass had other plans for dave. >> david letterman! >> dave letterman, come on, everybody up. >> in 1982 dave landed "late night" airing at 12:30 a.m., right after his hero johnny carson. >> so that's what they're doing. >> a dream job in a time slot so late you really could do anything he wanted on air.
4:13 pm
>> right over there is the "today" show. this whole program was my idea, and i'm not wearing pants. >> it was a completely unique talk show infused with dave's sarca sarcasm. >> america's favorite summertime pastime, distraction by gravity. >> and wacky stunts. >> i just remember my friends and i watching that and thinking this is the greatest thing ever. >> the turkey is a flightless bird. i don't think so. >> brand-new territory for a talk show. dave throwed, smashed the fourth wall. turning to his own team for inspiration. what do you do with a jacket when i'm done with it? >> i just add it to the big ball of sports coats. >> do you have any questions? >> no.
4:14 pm
>> paul, good question. how exactly do you get out of there? >> there really was no preparation. it was spontaneous. >> we're just going to bust them. >> i love paul. he always has kind of the perfect reaction. and i love the rhythm that they have together. >> here he is again, folks. what's his name, no paul. >> band leader and sidekick paul schaefer. >> you're giving me the one hitch name treatment? >> first shows i didn't have anything to say so i inserted myself, you know, and just one day started talking. and dave got a kick out of it. >> you know, paul, i used to do weather on tv. >> you did? that's funny because i used to be a swimsuit model. >> he said, hey, that was great. after the show he said, do more of that. >> i've watched johnny carson, and you are no johnny carson. >> sometimes we had a bigger audience than "the tonight
4:15 pm
show." then he started a routine with you where he would talk to you during the show. >> yeah. >> hal? hal? good lord, hal. hal? >> hilarious and innovativinnov. everyone was along for the ride. there was guest cams and monkey c cam. >> they had a 360-degree show once where the show slowly over the course of the hour rotated. that was ridiculous. >> we had achieved 180 degrees. >> they did a show on a plane. i felt almost like it was somehow for me, like the heavens had opened up. >> letterman fan boy yijimmy kimmel. >> there's a picture of your 18th birthday. >> the cake was late night by letterman. my mom had a letterman jacket made for me. i played no sports, yet i wore a letterman jacket to high school every day.
4:16 pm
my license plate said l8 nite. it was the most formidable thing in my young life. >> thank you. >> i just remember like dave walking all the way down the hall with one camera following him, and it's live. >> don't get on that elevator. >> it just seemed like such a waste of network television time. i loved it. >> what are you doing with those key snz. >> dave started a new kind of humor. >> and here's one of the smaller offices right there. >> carson had some rules we weren't supposed to break so the request was that dave shouldn't talk to an announcer and dave shouldn't do an opening monolog. i just remember thinking, that's it? that's all the things you don't have to do? that leaves everything. >> writer merrill markoe was the brains behind much of late night. she and dave were involved
4:17 pm
professionally and romantically for a decade. >> everything i found in the phone book that made any kind of a claim i would go and ask them about it, like if they said just bulbs, i would go, and what else do you have? >> then she'd send dave there to harass them. >> besides bulbs, what do you have here? >> nothing. >> what can you get in here? >> what can you get in here? just shades. >> markoe developed many of dave's trademark segments. >> i think i'm ground zero for dog videos. >> my god i hope they don't let him drive after this. >> that led to stupid pet tricks. >> stupid human tricks. and humor mail. >> letter number one -- >> my dream job was to work for david letterman. >> in 1985, conan o'brien tried to get a job as a writer on the show. >> it was between me and one
4:18 pm
other guy from oklahoma. turned out to be a mass murderer but a very prolific mass murderer. and they went with the other guy, and i was crushed. >> i had a dizzy dozen years, craziest job i ever had. >> steve o'donnell, though not a mass murderer, got one of those coveted writing gigs. >> there's the exhilaration of being like a cult college dorm type show, but it wasn't necessarily clear that it would go on for a long long time. >> go ahead. >> o'donnell and the team came up with most of dave's crazy getups. >> we have 3400 alka-seltzer tablets on this fine piece of clothing. >> we did a bunch of stunt-like suits partly inspired by steve alley. >> i got the suit of chips on here. when i come out, i'll pass among you folks. just snack your brains out. >> and crafted dave's classic top ten list. >> and the first one top ten
4:19 pm
words that almost rhyme with peas. >> and the number one word that almost rhymes with peas, according to our poll, is meats. >> yes, that was supposed to be absurd. >> two, one, ignition. >> off the charts absurd but arguably dave's funniest material were his remotes, pranks outside the studio. >> i just want to ask you a couple of questions. what do you do for a living? >> i'm a mailman. >> i have some xerox copies of other people's palms. this is bryant gumbel's. what do you see there? >> financial difficulties. >> no one knew who he was because he was this guy on at 12:30 at night. i remember a lady who went, wait a second, i know you. >> that's right, i'm chevy chase. nice to see you. >> when you have the authorization to drop off a fruit basket? >> dave began taking remotes to a whole new level when he mocked
4:20 pm
his own network. >> this is going to be fun to work with these people. to drop off a fruit basket you need paperwork. >> when he did the famous thing when ge took over and he brings a gift basket do him, the guy wouldn't shake his hand. >> what is your name? >> i'm going to ask you to turn the cameras off, please. >> did you feel like you were disobeying the bosses especially when ge bought nbc? >> absolutely. that was an important ingredient that we were all on the same side. >> they took it personally. >> i think ushgs knyou know he own future that way. here's dave who wants to succeed johnny carson more than anything. >> dave, don't move body and driveway. >> here's the people who are going to make the decision about it. and you are alienating them? >> you bet it's a ge. >> david letterman! >> but the audience loved dave. after a year on the air, he
4:21 pm
'twas was everywhere. late night once a cult hit became must-see tv. but dave never relaxed. >> having been canceled once, he felt another cancellation was imminent. he just felt there was an ax over his head. he was waiting for it to drop. >> ahead, the ax drops. the war for late night.
4:22 pm
this memorial day weekend only t-mobile has the samsung galaxy s6 edge with double the memory for free. that's right. pay for 32 gigs, and get 64 when you get samsung's hottest new phone. yep, that's twice the gigs. and zero down. you can't get that with the other guys. this weekend only. double your gigs for free. only at t-mobile. i'm reworking the menu. veggies you're cool... mayo, corn dogs... you are so out of here! ahh... the complete balanced nutrition of great tasting ensure. with nine grams of protein... and 26 vitamins and minerals. and now with... ...twice as much vitamin d ...which up to 90% of people don't get enough of. ohhhhhhh. the sunshine vitamin! ensure now has 2x more vitamin d to support strong bones. ensure. take life in.
4:23 pm
the powerful tool that shows blyou what should pay.r. it gives you a fair purchase price that's based on what others recently paid for the same new car and kelley blue book's trusted pricing expertise.
4:24 pm
4:25 pm
can i speak to you for a second? >> will you people leave bme alone? the stuff on the right side is tingling. do you know what that means? it's working. >> david letterman could seemingly find humor everywhere. >> there you go. >> look who's there! >> and by the late '80s, all of the cool kids wanted to hang with david letterman. including fellow comic jaylen know who had grew up with dave doing stand-up in the '70s. >> leno was our dream guest. whatever else was coming on in a dream or month, well, we had leno coming up next month. >> this lid to led to jay becoming the permanent substitute host for johnny. >> and here's jay leno! >> we could get in a two-shot
4:26 pm
here. we could send the crew home. >> movie stars wanted in with dave too, but they got no special treatment. >> please welcome cher. >> he was suspicious of celebrities. famously, when cher went on, he is not being the friendliest or the greatest, you're fantastic, you're cher. he's prodding. >> why finally after 4 1/2 years you decided to finally come on. >> i never thought i wanted to come on this show. >> now why? >> because you were an [ muted ]. >> it was an electric moment. no one called carson an [ expletive ]. >> dave was on a roll. then in 1992, a shocking announcement. carson was stepping down. >> i bid you a very heartfelt good night. >> to many, dave, after a decade of smash hit shows, seemed the heir apparent and joked with johnny about it months before.
4:27 pm
would i like to have this show? oh, sure. yeah. >> that's honest. >> i'm likely to be looking at new upholstery now. >> dave was ready to inherit his idol's chair and time slot. >> that's what he was looking for all those years, to do "the tonight show." >> unbeknownst to dave and the rest of the world, nbc executives had another comedian in mind. >> when did it become clear to dave that he was not going to get this dream job? >> they came to new york to talk to him, we love you and we want to keep you where you are and he said that is unacceptable and i want out of my contract and walked out of the room. >> making it even worse, the comic nbc favored was jayl leno who dave had helped boost his success. >> do you ever tell a little white lie and it gets you in trouble? >> bill carter wrote a best-selling book about the
4:28 pm
battle for late night and saying nbc execs had doubts about letterman. >> you know, he's so experimental. can he do the tonight show format and jay had a guy would do anything, any they asked times ten and said we'll give leno tonight and keep dave. >> but dave would have none of it. and public jostling for "the tonight show" went on for months. >> we were on at 12:30 and we did okay and it was this odd dynamic, nbc and myself, jay leno and myself, you had an ongoing soap opera, the strategy of it, the big guy, the little guy, the one guy got the job, the other didn't. >> ultimately leno got the gig. dave was crushed. >> he was devastated. there were people who said jay was this wild comic and decided to become a mainstream comic. and dave calculated what do you
4:29 pm
need to do. if you think about a late night show at 11:30, dave wanted to win. it played out in an interesting job. dave didn't play the game. jay got the show. >> you're lovely. enjoy yourselves. i'll be right back. >> jay's relationship with nbc became fractured but all the other networks came a-courting. >> i think what made the difference is that they would bring in plates of fresh fruit t. was first rate produce. >> and that impressed you? not me, but i think it impressed every other bonehead that came in. >> ultimately, he gets the most powerful agent in hollywood to represent him. >> yeah. that's where he came up with the idea that if it doesn't play at 11:30, there's a $50 million penalty. that's how he got around that. cbs said, we're going to make you the signature star of the network. i mean, you're going to be the guy for us. coming up, dave rolls the
4:30 pm
dice. >> he was worried about going to a new venue. the cbs thing was kind of a gamble. >> i checked this now with the cbs attorneys and legally i can continue to call myself dave. about a biologic... this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain and protect my joints from further damage. this is humira giving me new perspective. doctors have been prescribing humira for ten years. humira works for many adults. it targets and helps to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to ra symptoms. humira can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers, including lymphoma, have happened, as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb,
4:31 pm
hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have flu-like symptoms or sores. don't start humira if you have an infection. talk to your doctor and visit this is humira at work cancer 2 years ago. it was a priority for mike that he continue to be there for his family throughout his treatment continuing to live the life he loves. that's why he chose cancer treatment centers of america. there he found a comprehensive array of therapeutic options all under the same roof designed to fight his cancer, boost his energy and help him maintain his strength during treatment. mike and his clinical team developed a plan just for him. this is integrative cancer care.
4:32 pm
this is how mike fincham fights cancer. cancer treatment centers of america. for more information go to appointments available now.
4:33 pm
4:34 pm
this morning i wake up and next to me in bed is the head of a peacock. so i don't know. >> broadway's ed sullivan theater. >> it's a marvelous, wonderful edifice, and we couldn't be happier to be here. >> august 1993. >> the thing more than anything else, it was the double balcony, and it was enormous. >> ladies and gentlemen, we have a wonderful program tonight, bill murray, billy joel. >> dave's first night on a new network. >> welcome broadway, baby. >> in a new time slot. >> when the dust of the late night war settled, jay leno had "the tonight show" and dave had a multimillion-dollar deal with cbs. it was a risky move. >> cbs did not have anything in their history of late night. so letterman comes on, and his first few months on the air was absolute can't-miss television. >> it's a joke, okay? >> it is me, you jerk.
4:35 pm
>> every single night, he just killed it, killed it, killed it. >> what is wrong with you? >> ladies and gentlemen, that is not a promo. this is the actual show. >> dave amped up his monologue and added more a-list guests. >> would you like me to do a dance for you? >> such as drew barrymore who gave dave an unforgettable birthday present. >> oh, my gosh. oh, geez. >> we had madonna on. one of my favorite reaction shots. and madonna for some reason thought it would be funny to use the "f" word over and over and over again and it got tiresome. >> i brought something to make a point. you are always [ bleep ] with me on the show. >> in the middle of this, there was an elderly woman and her husband sitting in the audience,
4:36 pm
and i had a shot of her. it got big, bill laughs. >> turn the volume down immediately! she can't be stopped. >> nonstop laughs. yet writer steve o'donnell said dave never thought he was good enough. >> i think it could be painful for people close to him. i have saved dozens of little notes he wrote and they were like i hate myself and standby show. he would underline that. >> even as he worried about his own success on cbs, dave paid it forward just as carson had done for him. >> you better be as good as letterman! >> i'll give it a shot. >> he should maybe put him away. >> conan o'brien was a virtual unknown when he replaced dave on nbc's "late night." >> i was being pummelled to death on television every night. >> hey, hey. >> we'd only been on the air just a couple of months, and dave came on as a guest.
4:37 pm
that was a huge deal. >> when i first got this job, i came here to 30 rock. >> how did you get this job, by the way? >> so always indealt indebted tr that. >> care for a free taco? >> dave delivered everywhere he went. for a couple of years he was golden. going head to head with his own pal on nbc at 11:30 and winning. that is, until a shocking celebrity scandal in 1995. >> question number one -- >> a gigantic get when leno landed hugh grant after the actor's arrest for soliciting a prostitute. >> -- what the hell were you thinking? >> that epic interview, plus nbc's monster prime-time hits and leno's own fine-tuning of the show took a toll on letterman's late show. >> it really hurt letterman, i
4:38 pm
think. it became an increasingly difficult struggle to counter all of that momentum at nbc. >> if you want to influence a congressman, you have to send him a full beer can. >> jay leno went on to win the ratings war for 15 years. gradual gradually, dave made peace with it. >> he is more comfortable as the hipper, slightly skewed show with a slightly skewed attitude and being at number one. >> it doesn't matter what the ratings are. it really doesn't matter. the fact of the matter is dave is the best there ever was. dave started something. >> dave dave dave dave dave dave dave! >> in 2000, dave showed a much softer side after emergency heart bypass surgery and five weeks of ott off the air, giving a touching tribute to the hospital staff that helped him. >> these men and women right here saved my life. >> and when dave shows his human side, it's a real treat. you're like, oh, what is going on here, who is this person we
4:39 pm
didn't know? >> the episode earned an emmy nomination. >> the year later, the september after the 11th, he couldn't hold back his emotion. >> i was in the makeup room with him. he was pacing and trying to figure out what he would say. >> if you live to be a thousand years old will that make any sense to you? will that make any goddamn sense? >> letterman was the first late night host back on air. >> he made it okay to start laughing again. >> fatherhood also changed him. >> in 2003, he and his girlfriend had a son harry named after dave's late father. >> it's been really sweet to get to see these big moments in his life, from his heart surgery to the birth of his son and then i think as he's getten older we got to know him a little bit. >> your life doesn't really begin in the important ways until you've had a child. when we come back, a
4:40 pm
cheating scandal turns dave's world upside down. >> i had a little story that i would like to tell you and the home viewers as well. do you feel like a story? ♪ woman: whoa. ♪ ♪ woman: ha ha... ♪ but you, you booked a room with . . . the switch you got it booking right. booking.yeah
4:41 pm
we all enter this and we see no reason to stop. so cvs health is creating industry-leading programs and tools that help people stay on medicines as their doctors prescribed. it could help save tens of thousands of lives every year. and that would be something worth shouting about. cvs health, because health is everything.
4:42 pm
when you're not confident you have complete visibility into your business, it can quickly become the only thing you think about. that's where at&t can help. with innovative solutions that connect machines and people... to keep your internet of things in-sync, in real-time.
4:43 pm
leaving you free to focus on what matters most. thank you very much for being on the program again. you know, it's been three years since the last time you were on the show, and i will say right
4:44 pm
off the top here that you look different from what i remember. >> "the late show," january 2009, joaquin phoenix was acting crazy. >> what do you have them on? >> i'm sorry? >> what have you got them on? >> it was like watching a really good surgeon. it was better than that. it wasn't even a surgeon. it was like watching a maestro. >> what can you tell us about your days with the unibomber? >> he told you without specifically telling you that he thought that person was a nut. for me, when i see somebody on the show, i have a pretty good idea whether he's going to like them or not. and it really influences me. if he likes them, i like them. and if he doesn't like them, they're idiots. >> and joaquim, i'm sorry you couldn't be here tonight. >> more than 25 years in the biz, and dave still nailed it. when jay leno left "the tonight show" just two months later -- >> we just have two more shows left to do. >> -- dave crushed his
4:45 pm
competition for the first time in more than a decade. >> ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the tonight show with conan o'brien. >> there was much drama over at nbc with conan o'brien getting the tonight show and then leno wrestling it back from him. in 2012, dave and conan joked about the nbc mess, both of them deprived of their late night sche dreams by a scheming jay leno. >> he's getting a live feed in a satellite truck right now. he's watching every second. >> it was kind of like, here are two guys, very successful, nobody should feel bad for them. but they've both kind of been through the same hellish experience because of this other guy. >> yeah. it was just -- it was one of those -- it was a nice moment that comes along every now and then where everything lined up. >> how about your relationship with jay because you knew him before he demanded he get his show back. >> i was assured none of this
4:46 pm
would come up tonight. >> dave was leading the late-night pack when a joke about sarah palin's daughter fell flat. >> one awkward moment for sarah palin at the yankee game during the seventh inning her daughter was knocked up by alex rodriguez. >> adding fuel to the fire, dave had messed up and targeted the wrong daughter. >> he took shots at the daughter. i think a lot of people in politics think that's over the line. >> i told a bad joke. i told a joke that was beyond flawed. >> but that joke was nothing compared to what came next that year. >> i have a story i would like to tell you and the home viewers as well. >> the 62-year-old host confessed to a cheating scandal soon after he and his longtime girlfriend had tied the knot. >> this was embarrassing because it was kind of an open secret that he's had some relationships with some women who worked on the show. >> yes. and people on the show were aware of that. i don't think people were aware of this one. >> dave's shocking confession drew applause.
4:47 pm
>> that i have had sex with women who work for me on this show. now, my response to that is -- yes, i have. i have had sex with women who work on this show. >> dave's confession came after an extortion attempt by a cbs producer who demanded millions to keep hush dave's affairs with staffers. >> and would it be embarrassing if it were made public? perhaps it would. perhaps it would. especially for the women. >> the fact that he had an affair, that's probably conventional. then the guy winds up trying to blackmail him. i think it's very letterman that instead of paying this guy off to keep him quiet, he said, i'm not doing that. he went right to the cops. >> i just want to thank the people at the special prosecution bureau and the district attorney's office.
4:48 pm
>> this is a guy who hates humiliation. >> the cbs producer pled guilty to attempted grand larceny and spent four months in jail. a week after the scandal, dave apologized to his wife on air. >> my wife regina has been horribly hurt by my behavior. and when something happens like that, if you hurt a person and it's yurs your responsibility, you try to fix it. so let me tell you, folks, i got my work cut out for me. >> dave called this the lowest point in his life. the couple did reconcile and they are still together. >> talk about electric television. it's just television like nothing else you've ever seen. >> his ratings went up. >> his ratings went up after that. but you know his ratings have never recovered much from the early days because he's always been playing from behind. and at some point i think he stopped feeling like he could win. coming up, dave.
4:49 pm
say it ain't so. >> so i was goofing around with my son harry, and i said, harry, what if i retired? why would you retire? i want to. that's like nine times you've asked...yes. i mean it's beneful. i can actually see the meaty chunks and carrots right there...look at it. it's beautiful. mmmmmmm, thank you so much... but you know tomorrow night... 'bout we just assume i do want to eat... know speed things up a little. (vo) beneful chopped blends, a healthy blend... ...your dog will love. made with real beef. plus carrots and barley that you can see. beneful. healthy with a side of happy.
4:50 pm
mr.clean came up with a productn make his assistant disappear, that makes dirt virtually disappear. he called it the magic eraser. it cleans like magic. even baked on dirt disappears right before your eyes. mr.clean's magic eraser.
4:51 pm
4:52 pm
dave and pop star lady gaga. >> hello, new york! >> nice to see you. >> there was no stopping me.
4:53 pm
so my mom was really supportive. and, you know, i've been doing this for a long time and i have a lot of rejection. >> when i got fired at nbc, my mom brought me here to cbs. >> that was 23 years ago. >> is it weird that it's lasted this long? it's 2015. >> i think it's weird in the sense that he felt it was going to be canceled all the time. i heard about that endlessly. and i would like to go back to that version of him and just go, you! what's wrong with you?! you're going to be on for the rest of your life. >> here's johnny! >> or at least longer than his idol, johnny carson. >> i bid you a very heartfelt good night. >> in 2013, david letterman became the longest running late-night host in show business history. >> my name is david letterman. the one fixed point in the ever-changing late-night sky. >> this is dave. >> he's had more than 18,000 guests. >> howard stern.
4:54 pm
many of them, regulars. >> no! >> a little thing right in there. yeah! >> julia roberts! >> you know, there was a time, dave, when i asked you on a date. >> wait a minute, turn off the cameras! clear the audience. turn off the cameras! >> jerry seinfeld. >> i'm not going to mexico. why would i? their food is already here. >> after more than 30 years on air for letterman, his younger rivals are grabbing those coveted viewers. ♪ i want to rock right now >> you know, he's not surprising anybody at this point by being david letterman. we all know what david letterman is. yet he's still doing things you absolutely have to see. >> it's too damned hot! there you go! >> late-night observer bill carter has been seeing signs that dave has been winding down. >> he really hasn't done any of the bits he used to do.
4:55 pm
he doesn't really -- he doesn't even go to rehearsal. there are people who say he probably should have left when he was closer to the peak. but i think it's really been very hard for him. >> when this show stops being fun, i will retire ten years later. >> then, last april, letterman made a shocking reveal about a phone call he had with cbs honcho, les moonves. >> i said, leslie, you've been great. the network has been great. >> there was no indication, he said, can you just come with me, and took me into a little alcove, and he said, i've told the guys that -- >> i'm retiring. >> this is really -- >> yep! >> this is -- this is -- you actually did this? >> yes, i did. >> wow. well, do i have a minute to call my accountant? because -- wow. and the next thing i know, i was on stage.
4:56 pm
♪ east coast girls are hip and thinking, what did i just hear? but that's -- you know, it was as fast as that. >> there's the bird. look at that! look at that animal right there. >> that is beautiful, yeah. >> dave says his epiphany came after bird watching with his son, harry, and then going to do his show. >> so i get home that night and i'm talking to my wife, regina, and she said, well, how was work? and i said, oh, well, we think we identified the bird. she says, that's great. who was on the show? i said, i don't remember. so that's when i started thinking in terms of, how long does a guy want to do a tv show? ♪ there is no better man than good old david leatherman ♪ >> dave's celebrity friends have been less than understanding.
4:57 pm
>> you're going to have nothing to do pretty soon. >> i know. >> this whole quitting requested is the stupid thing i ever heard. horrible, horrible! >> and you are still an [ bleep ]. >> well, i was thinking you and me, we can play some dominos together. >> dominos! >> even president obama gave dave a heartfelt sendoff. >> i think dave will have the same kind of legacy that -- that richard pryor and george carlin. i think that he's up there with those guys. >> you look at all the other shows, and you see david letterman's influence. >> how are you? then let's follow it up by people pointing out to me that i'm the old guy now. >> you're the oldest? the you're the one that's been on the longest? >> i went from, who the hell is he, to, is he still here? >> can you envision yourself 20 years from now doing your late-night show? >> what the hell am i going to
4:58 pm
do with myself every day at 4:00 p.m.? ♪ >> dave's final show was not sentimental, but it was a chance to land one more dig. >> it's beginning to look like i'm not going to get the tonight show. top ten things i've always wanted to say today. >> the the last top ten list featured dave's celebrity bffs. >> i'm just glad your show is being given to another white gu guy. >> thanks for letting me take part in another hugely disappointing series finale. >> i want to thank my own family. >> but he saved his most touching moment for his wife regina and his son harry.
4:59 pm
>> seriously, thank you for being my family. i love you both, and really nothing else matters, does it? >> what the hell am i going to do with myself every day at 4:00 p.m. >> dave loves to get laughs. >> would you boys like a table or do you want to sit at the bar? so i wouldn't count him out -- you know, i wouldn't put him on the porch. >> paul and i will be debuting our new act at caesar's palace with our white tigers. >> i know dave would be the very last person to say he was better than johnny, but dave is better than johnny. >> for the last time on a television program, thank you and good night. ♪
5:00 pm
orange county fire rescue. >> 6600 sea harbor drive. seaworld stadium. >> okay. >> we actually have a trainer the water with one of our whales. the whale they're not supposed to be in the water with. >> okay. we'll get someone in route. >> through gate number 3 to shamu stadium. >> gate 3.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on