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So I channel surfed from the first iteration of Keith Olbermann's program on ESPN over to the CBS affiliate to watch Dave Letterman do a bit on trying to identify a bird (an immature bald eagle) for his son, Harry only to be led to a gag where he announced his retirement saying he was going to marry Paul Schaeffer. I thought it was a joke but then it sank in, and when I went back over to KO's show his opening segment was as good a tribute to a friend as I've ever heard, comparing Dave to Babe Ruth and including the story of the most memorable snub for late night, John McCain cancelling his appearance on Dave's show and KO filling in with 40 minutes to airtime.


Many of us grew up with Dave on NBC, suffering though his daytime show with him, endured the night time betrayal by Leno, and even remember that his work resembled that of another Dave, Dave Garroway (J. Fred Muggs as sneezing monkey-cam). And unlike the video idiocy that is daytime television, Late Night is a place complicated by some really fascinating and insurgent moments of television: first with Jack Paar, Dave's Connecticut neighbor, then with Steve Allen, both on the Tonight Show and afterwards in LA which became truly anarchistic verite programming (host as stunt-person), and culminating with the corporate network insanity of competition with Johnny Carson by Joey Bishop and Merv Griffin, among others. Dave synthesized the spontaneity of Dick Cavett and Jack Paar with the deep cynicism that only former standup comedians and weathermen can bring to the "Box of Death". So much of our snark comes from his great staff of writers including the so-forgotten Merrill Markoe. Thanks Dave for all you did, making the vast wasteland less so, and placing us in a carnivalesque world where so much of what we endure are Stupid Human Tricks.


Footnote: Dave's replacement should be a woman simply to right an historical wrong that is more than the petty sensibilities that have surrounded the late night wars. OTOH, it would be historic if the full weight of Worldwide Pants went with promoting a female replacement host noting of course their failed experiment with Bonnie Hunt.

In September 1983, Joan Rivers was designated Carson's permanent guest host, a role she had been essentially filling for the previous year. In 1986, she left the show for her own show on the then-new Fox Network. According to Carson, Rivers never personally informed him of the existence of her show. Rivers, on the other hand, disagrees. Nevertheless, Rivers's new show was quickly cancelled, and she never again appeared on The Tonight Show with Carson. She also never appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a ban instigated by Leno out of respect for Carson, nor did she appear during Conan O'Brien's seven-month run. After Carson's death in 2005, Rivers told CNN that Carson never forgave her for leaving, and never spoke to her again, even after she wrote him a note following the accidental death of Carson's son Ricky in June of 1991

Sun Apr 13, 2014 at 12:48 PM PT: Colbert in many ways was a logical choice, if only to counter the Jimmies, but one based on demographic ratings rather than risk.

Originally posted to eState4Column5©2013 on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 09:40 PM PDT.

Also republished by moranbetterDemocrats.

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