I always enjoyed it when David Letterman got a bee in his bonnet about something, and let the ire run for a few episodes, before it culminated in something brilliant. Don Giller has compiled one such thread from Late Night in July of 1987.
The exact location of the gas station has been edited out, but there are enough clues elsewhere to narrow it down. So, using Google Maps, I found what I think is the station in question.
There it is. On the corner of Lincoln and First, just off the Hutchinson River Parkway. There doesn’t appear to be any scorch marks, so either they cleared up properly, or Dave was telling porkies.
A few nights ago, Chevy Chase appeared on stage at the Hammersmith Apollo, for a sit down retrospective of his career. He was interviewed by Mike Read. Why this was the case, no-one really knows, but from all accounts, Read’s handling of the event will go down in the annals as a total train wreck.
Chase is a notoriously difficult interview subject, but he was trying his best to make something of the evening apparently. Here he is on Late Night With David Letterman, circa 1989, promoting his new movie Fletch Lives.
And here he is in 1986 on The Tonight Show, promoting The Three Amigos.
An interesting moment in the above clip, just before they talk about Chevy guest-hosting the show, and move on to how to deal with a show that’s tanking, is when he mentions that he was once touted as the next Carson. This seems to have stuck, as we’ve covered here before, when in 1993, Fox gave Chase his own talk show. It’s worth seeking out some of it on YouTube.
Finally, here’s Chevy and Johnny again, this time from 1985, on a Fletch promotional tour.
It just goes to show, in the hands of a good host, you can get a good interview out of him.
Late Night with David Letterman has featured on this blog many times, not least because it feels like a different lifetime, and it’s a show that we never got to see here in the UK. Here’s Dave helping his viewers come to terms with the cancellation of the NBC show Voyagers!.
Voyagers! was a sci-fi show created by James D. Parriott. It ran quite successfully for 20 episodes, and looked set to be renewed. But when 60 Minutes, the show it ran against, stumbled, NBC thought that the time was right to schedule a competing news show. Voyagers! was replaced by Monitor, which then tanked.
This feels like NBC revisited the idea a few years later with Quantum Leap.
In the school special above, Letterman mentions the great new hope of the coming fall schedule, Manimal. This is a show I watched when it aired in the UK, and was always confused as to why it suddenly vanished from my screen. Had we had Late Night, I would have known why.
Manimal was scheduled opposite the CBS powerhouse Dallas, and only lasted four episodes, before it was yanked off the air. The final three episodes were shown a month or so later. Here’s the opening title sequence.
It wasn’t the last we heard of Manimal though. Show creator Glen A Larson revisited the character in his late nineties series NightMan.
Make of that what you will.
Letterman is back on our screens, with a long form interview show on Netflix called My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Somehow I doubt he will be bothering Drive-Thru booths, editing jokes out of the show live on air, or helping us deal with shows that Netflix has cancelled. It would be nice for a streaming service to pick up all of Late Night though. We can but hope.