Fond Memories of The Late Show with David Letterman

After 30+ years, David Letterman ended his show on May 20, 2015.  I spent that morning chatting with some of my wonderfully talented, kind friends on the Late Show staff back in New York. I had the pleasure and honor to help produce all of the shows that Dave did on the West Coast (LA & SF) as well as the many remote segments (ie. Biff Henderson at the Grammy’s, Dave’s Mom at the Olympics and Mandy Patinkin singing college fight songs in the shower). Here are my…
Top 10 Memories from The Late Show with David Letterman:
10) Spending a week with the Late Show staff at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway for tapings of Letterman, then after show dinner at some of NY’s finest.
9) During rehearsal in LA, frantically trying to arrange a driver to pick-up the missing guest Bette Midler. Turns out she was there all the time, but we mistook her for the wardrobe mistress. After a brief time in make-up she brought the house down with her musical number.
8) Three weeks in San Francisco with my production partner Jim Ripple – forming the– Rupple /Ripple Connection – as we prepared for a week of unbelievable shows at the Palace of the Fine Arts.
7) Guest Tom Hanks – he made an appearance during each of Dave’s visits to LA, wonderfully, kind man.
6) Spending a day with Tommy Lasorda as he swam laps at the LAPD pool throughout the Late Show.
5) After a long day at Malibu Beach shooting a segment where Dave and Paul go surfing, Dave walked all the way out to his car, he stopped and walked all the way back across the parking lot to thank me for all of my help.
4) The great remotes around LA: Dave & Paul surfing in Malibu, Rupert G. with Dave on walkie-talkie, Zsa Zsa Gabor eating fast food, and the BEST, ordering 1200 tacos from Taco Bell so Dave could drive around LA and throw them on people’s lawns like the morning newspaper.
3) After the NY show was wrapped and the crew had gone home for the day, I walked out onto the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater. With camcorder in hand, I introduced the Beatles in my best Ed Sullivan impression.
2) The day of my 40th birthday was the day the Late Show arrived in LA for rehearsal. I was called up to Dave’s dressing room for some bogus task. Then I was summoned back to the studio. As I walked onto the stage, the lights went out, the crew rolled out a giant birthday cake with 40 candles and Paul Schaffer and the Late Show Band sang “Happy birthday” to me! My presents? A Late Show Letterman Jacket and a Seinfeld script signed by Late Show guest Jerry Seinfeld…never will forget my 40th!
1) About an hour before an LA show, I got a called from Late Show Producer Robert “Morty” Morton. He told me VERY CONFIDENTIALLY that Johnny Carson was going to be that night’s surprise guest. This was HUGE for CBS and Letterman. This was Johnny’s first appearance on TV since his retirement and he choose to make it on CBS not NBC. The only people who knew he was coming were Dave, Morty, me and I then informed our head of security. The audience was already lined up right past the door that Johnny was arriving at. I had to move, without any true reason, the entire audience over to the other side of the building. Then Johnny pulled up, I opened his door, shook his hand and escorted him into the building, up the back stairway and into his dressing room. WOW, late night royalty!

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