There’s no off position on the genius switch

letterman(image: AP/Newsday)

We knew it was coming, but it was always going to feel like the end of an era. Wednesday is the final Late Show with David Letterman.  Those are hard words to write, but thankfully, this week there have been plenty of others, better and funnier. And of course, there’s always YouTube.

According to this ‘by the numbers’ by Yahoo Finance,

Letterman’s morning show only lasted 4 months back in 1980. His late night career has been much more long-lived. In fact, he’s now the longest serving late night host in history. When all is said and done, David Letterman will have done 6,028 broadcasts of his two late-night shows on both NBC and CBS. Letterman has hosted a total 19,932 guests, according to CBS. Marv Albert had the most “Late Night” guest visits with 73; while Regis Philbin can claim the crown on the “Late Show” with over 100. Since it’s debut in September 1985, there have been 5,614 Top Ten Lists. The very first one was, “Things That Almost Rhyme With Peas.”

New York Times TV critic Bill Carter writes an appreciation at The Hollywood Reporter while former Letterman writer Daniel Kellison writes at Grantland about his years with Dave.

* Here are the ten most-watched episodes, via the Wall Street Journal.

Eight comedians who worked for Dave before they were big, via Mashable.

* The 17 Best Letterman Musical Performances Ever, via Entertainment Weekly. (Strangely not including Paul McCartney’s performance on the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater or REM playing “What’s The Frequency Kenneth?” with Dan Rather. But Warren Zevon’s emotional final performance is included, so all is forgiven.)

* Late Show band leader Paul Shaffer reflects at the NYT on 33 years working with Dave.

* Late Show Director and Supervising Producer Jerry Foley writes at the Huffington Post about his 20 years producing the show.

Letterman’s monologue as the first comedy show host back on the air after 9/11 is, simply, part of television history.

(YouTube/Steve English)

Later this year, Stephen Colbert takes over the desk. Brad Wetherell writes at Salon about what the new late night show line-up says about us as a collective audience.

But finally, in ‘Letterman’s Last Great Moment’ for Grantland, Bill Simmons wrote at the time about the manner of the announcement and what Wednesday night ultimately means.

Do viewers even want to watch quality interviews at midnight anymore? Should every segment skew shorter? Should late-night shows flood us with bits/jokes/games/songs/sound bites/videos/pranks/songs hoping any catch on? Are there too many channels, too many voices, too many angles and too many niches these days? Where in God’s name are we going?

You know who didn’t want to find out the answers to any of these questions? David Letterman, that’s who. Every Letterman junkie always knew he’d retire on a whim; that’s exactly what happened. No hype, no warning, no manufactured drama, nothing. Only Carson would have done it that way, and maybe that was the point. The old man told a story, then a second story, then a third story, and suddenly, he was gone. He’s leaving after his 33rd year. My favorite number. And now, officially, late-night television can morph into something else. I just don’t know what.


* WORLD * On Friday, Ireland will become the first country in the world to put the idea of marriage equality to a nationwide vote. As NPR reports, in the 17 countries around the world where same-sex marriage is legal, “the decision was made by the legislature or the courts. Ireland appears poised to become the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through a national popular vote.”

The ‘Yes’ campaign has taken its message to an artistic level.

Mashable meets some of the faces behind the story.

Meanwhile, north of the border on Tuesday…

There was also a meeting on Tuesday in Galway between Prince Charles and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams.

On Wednesday, the Prince continues his visit to Ireland with a personal journey to Mullaghmore, where his godfather and confidant Lord Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA in 1979.


* POLITICS * A day after saying that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s FOIA-requested emails would not be released until next January, the State Department will now  release the documents “on a rolling basis,” beginning with those requested by the House Benghazi committee, which ABC News reports could be released “this week.”

As trailed yesterday, the Benghazi committee issued a subpoena requiring testimony from former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal.

Mrs Clinton herself made some news on the campaign trail in Iowa by breaking her recent silence with the press.


After having spent a lot of time in early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, her campaign announced she would travel next to Florida, and then, interestingly, to Texas on June 4th, the day GOP hopeful Rick Perry is also set to announce something “special”.

On the GOP side, Chris Christie apparently thinks people don’t want him to be President because they want him to stay on as Governor.


* BUSINESS * An airbag recall by Japanese manufacturer Takata affecting 34 million vehicles, became the biggest automotive industry recall in American history.

The Associated Press reports that ConAgra Foods could face a criminal charge following the completion of a US government investigation into a 2007 peanut butter recall. Details will be released on Wednesday.

Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The move would affect some 800,000 workers and the first part of the staged increase will take effect next summer.


* CULTURE * Happy 70th birthday, Pete Townshend. The Who front man celebrated by releasing a new song, “Guantanamo.”

Here’s a clip of Townshend and Eddie Vedder on the Letterman show in 1999.

(YouTube/Mark Manley)


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