Gossip Cop’s Interview With David Letterman: A Look Back (VIDEO)
David Letterman, who’s retiring from late-night television on Wednesay, very rarely gave interviews, but I, Gossip Cop’s Top Cop, was lucky enough a decade ago to have a random and awfully bizarre run-in with him lead to a quick chat on-air. See video of part of the interview here.
It was the 2005 Emmys, and I was a producer for “Access Hollywood.” The traffic in Downtown L.A. was so infuriating that, at a certain point, about a mile away from the awards show in the smoldering summer heat, I told the guy driving me, “I’m just going to walk from here.”
And at a quick pace, I hoofed it about three-quarters of a mile, and was heading down the homestretch when, walking in the opposite direction, there was David Letterman, who was set to pay tribute to Johnny Carson that night. The awards show was about 20 minutes away, and as the limos were heading toward the Shrine Auditorium, Letterman, in shorts and smoking a cigar, was walking with a woman in the complete opposite direction, muttering, “I’m not going in there. I’m not going in there.”
He then stopped walking with the woman and sat on a bustop bench. I called down to my crew on the red carpet and asked if anyone had a camera and could meet me a few blocks away. Sure enough, within minutes, a colleague of mine was in the area and began shooting Letterman from across the street. Letterman saw the camera, so quick on my feet I feigned indignation and yelled over, “Put down the camera.”
My colleague then met me across the street, a few feet away from Letterman. nervous about how to broach the subject, I just said, “Dave, do you mind if we ask you a few questions.” “Fire away,” he answered. “The Emmys are about to start, what the heck are you doing?” “We’re just waiting on the bus,” Letterman cracked.” “Are you planning on changing into a tuxedo anytime soon,” I asked, to which he replied, “This is uh, pretty expensive. It’s like Armani.” He noted he was going to do his bit about Carson, and would go right home. The camera turned off, and I said, “Pleasure to meet you,” and he said, “And a pleasure to meet you, too.”
The late-night talk show host, who had a reputation for not giving interviews, couldn’t have been a more pleasant subject. He could have easily said, “Hey, I’m not giving interviews tonight.” But instead, he said, “Fire away.”
I remember calling his rep, as I made my way down the last few blocks, into he awards show and asked, “When’s the last time Dave’s given an interview?” He wasn’t sure, but figured it was a good decade or more, and it was to his pal Regis Philbin. I told, “Well, he just talked to ‘Access Hollywood’ on the street.”
Usually, a rep would nervously ask, “What did he say?” But his spokesman knew Dave was his own man, and it didn’t matter.
But it mattered to me. The greatest talk show host ever, who was minutes away from honoring his mentor, Johnny Carson, decided that he’d give an interview at a bustop in his shorts. He was quirky. His comedy was quirky.
Thank you, Dave, for the late-night comedy, and for that late afternoon interview 10 years ago at the Emmys.