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This year, David Letterman marks his 21st year in late-night comedy and his 10th year as the host of the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN on CBS. After nearly 4000 broadcasts, he remains one of the most influential personalities in the history of television. Other than Johnny Carson, who hosted "The Tonight Show" for 30 years, no late-night host comes near Letterman in longevity, critical praise and award recognition. Often imitated but never matched, Letterman presents, night after night, an unpredictable hour of innovative comedy. Television critics agree. The New York Observer named Letterman its "Media Mensch of the Year," noting that he is "a pioneer without platitude; who has become the gold standard for TV in our age," while The New York Daily News called him "the best the medium can achieve." Entertainment Weekly echoed the sentiment, calling him "the ol' reliable, the real stuff." On Aug. 30, 1993, the LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN made its debut, and it quickly went on to become one of the most talked-about and critically acclaimed programs of the year. Now, ten years later, the LATE SHOW continues to deliver inventive and imaginative comedy every night. For its efforts, it has earned six Emmy Awards as "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program." Letterman's first network break was in 1978 on the CBS variety series "Mary," starring Mary Tyler Moore. In November of that year, he made the first of his 22 appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." He also guest-hosted "Tonight" numerous times.
In 1980, Letterman began hosting an Emmy Award-winning morning comedy-variety program, "The David Letterman Show," which ran for three months on NBC. His critically acclaimed show "Late Night with David Letterman" premiered in February 1982. Throughout its 11½ years, "Late Night" was honored with many awards, including 5 Emmys and 35 Emmy nominations.
From the start, Letterman has been critically applauded for redefining the talk-show genre. In 1992, he received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for taking "one of TV's most conventional and least inventive forms -- the talk show -- and infusing it with freshness and imagination." Letterman has also won two American Comedy Awards as Funniest Male Performer in a Television Series, and in 1995 and 2001 he was nominated for a Career Achievement Award by the Television Critics Association.
Both "Late Night with David Letterman" and CBS's LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN have earned countless awards, including 13 Emmys and 74 Emmy nominations. (The LATE SHOW alone has received 39 Emmy nominations and won eight Emmys, including six total for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program in 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.) In addition, Letterman's morning program, "The David Letterman Show," won two Emmys and was honored with five nominations.
Letterman's Quiet Life, Interrupted Again
When it comes to keeping his private life private, David Letterman is not kidding. The trappings of celebrity have made his quest for peace anything but a joke.
On Thursday, the CBS late-night talk-show host and his girlfriend, Regina Lasko, thanked FBI and local law enforcement officials in Montana for thwarting a plan to kidnap their 16-month-old son, Harry. "We will be forever grateful for their tireless efforts and determination to vigorously pursue this situation," the couple said in a statement.
Police say Kelly A. Frank, a 43-year-old painter who had been working on Letterman's 2,700-acre ranch in Chonteau, Mont., was scheming to hold the boy and his nanny for $5 million ransom. Frank was arrested and charged with felony solicitation after allegedly telling an acquaintance of his plan.
Now, Letterman, who rarely comments on personal matters, will try once again to lead the quiet life — a desire that's led him to spend an increasing amount of free time at his Rocky Mountain home after several nightmarish episodes at his East Coast homes.
A Persistent Stalker
For many years, Letterman was targeted by mentally ill fan Margaret Ray, who broke into his Connecticut house multiple times and became nationally known as a celebrity stalker.
Ray's obsession began after attending a taping of NBC's "Late Night With David Letterman" show in 1988. Soon after, she swiped Letterman's $80,000 Porsche from his home in New Canaan, Conn. She took off with her 4-year-old son at her side.
Police stopped her in New York City, near the Lincoln Tunnel, when she was unable to pay the $3 toll. "I'm Mrs. David Letterman," she told officers, "and this is our son."
Over the next four years, Ray would be arrested six more times for trespassing on Letterman's property, once while sleeping near his tennis courts. In other visits, she left cookies and an empty whiskey bottle in Letterman's foyer and a book about meditation and letters in his driveway.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Ray served 10 months in prison and 14 months in a mental institution. After her release, she developed an obsession with astronaut Story Musgrave, who had led a spacewalk to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. She bombarded his home with letters and phone calls, and faked her way into an interview with him by posing as a journalist.
In 1998, Ray committed suicide at age 46 by kneeling in front of a train. Letterman said in a statement that her death was a "sad end to a confused life."
However, there was little relief for the beleaguered star. A week after Ray's death, there was another incident at his home.
On Sept. 28, 1998, police arrested Nellie Ruth Shirley, a 39-year-old woman from South Carolina, on charges of misdemeanor criminal trespass after a neighbor called police to investigate a suspicious vehicle in Letterman's driveway.
The woman first told police she didn't know she was at Letterman's house, but eventually indicated "she wanted to go up there to communicate with him," according to police.
A judge ordered Shirley to stay away from Letterman and have no contact with the celebrity, and that if she did so, her charges would be dropped after a year.
On the air, Letterman rarely joked about such instances, but there were exceptions. In a 1993 "Top 10" list titled "Things I Have To Do Before I Leave NBC" … he listed, "… send change of address forms to that woman who breaks into my house."
By that time, Letterman had sold his New Canaan home and moved to a $5 million 88-acre estate in North Salem, N.Y., in an area packed with celebrities such as Michael Bloomberg, now mayor of New York City.
Letterman purchased his Montana ranch in 1999, and until recently, there have been no printed reports of trespass or disturbances, except for a black bear that has broken into his home on two occasions.
The bear was captured and relocated after returning a third time. Given Letterman's other unwelcomed guests, he probably wishes all his problems could be solved so easily.
Man In David Letterman Plot Arrested In Montana
Authorities have arrested a man on allegations he was plotting to kidnap David Letterman's young son and nanny from the talk-show host's Montana home.
Sally Hilander, a spokeswoman for the Montana Department of Corrections, identified the suspect who was under state supervision for a previous crime as Kelly A. Frank.
The plot was uncovered when someone whom Frank had approached about the plan informed local police, Hilander said. Frank was in custody on a felony charge of solicitation.
Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for Letterman's production company World Wide Pants, said he could not immediately comment or say whether Letterman or his family was in Montana at the time of Frank's arrest.
Mike Ferriter of the state Department of Corrections said Frank, 43, was arrested Sunday and arraigned Thursday. He had been working as a painter at Letterman's ranch west of Choteau in northcentral Montana, Ferriter said.
"An individual was approached by Mr. Frank, an acquaintance of some kind, about his thought on the kidnapping, and (Frank) shared his idea with this individual," Ferriter said. "I'm not sure if he asked him to assist or be a part of it. "
Letterman's girlfriend, Regina Lasko, gave birth to their son on Nov. 3, 2003. Letterman said that the boy, his first child, was named after his late father, Harry Joseph Letterman.
The comedian who hosts CBS' "Late Show" bought the 2,700-acre spread in 1999.
Letterman's ranch is along the edge of the rugged Rocky Mountain Front, an area known for its pristine wildlife habitats and home to wolves, eagles and grizzly bears. In September 2003, a black bear broke into Letterman's home twice before being captured and relocated after returning a third time.
For years, Letterman was famously targeted by a stalker, who called herself "Mrs. David Letterman" and broke into his Connecticut house at least seven times.
Margaret Ray eventually pleaded guilty to breaking and entering. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, she served 10 months in prison and 14 months in a mental institution. In 1998, she committed suicide at age 46 by kneeling in front of a train.
Aishwarya Rai: Actors are like gypsies
Aishwarya Rai showed up on the Late Show with David Letterman in a short black dress, a black blouse and a leather jacket -- and made sure he wasn't going to have one up on her.
When he asked her how she got started in show biz, she threw a smile at him and asked how he got started in his business. Someone fell sick, Letterman said laughing.
Earlier, on his hour-long program on CBS, Letterman reiterated what are now familiar lines in America: Rai is the most famous star in the world adored by billions and she is also the most beautiful woman in the world.
Ash had the second billing on his show, following comedian Kevin James who makes his big screen debut in Hitch (starring Will Smith) which opens on February 11, the same day Gurinder Chadha's Bride And Prejudice (starring Rai) is being released in 15 American cities on about two dozen screens.
Unlike the CBS's 60 Minutes that was shot in Mumbai and followed Rai to the Siddhi Vinayak Temple (and showed her grabbing more attention than the deities), the Letterman interview took place in his studio in New York.
Rai's appearance on the show came less than 16 hours before she would walk on the red carpet at the Bride and Prejudice premiere at Union Square Theatre in Manhattan.
Unlike in the 60 Minutes show, Rai did not have tell Letterman about her queasy feelings about kissing on screen. She made a face at him for asking if it was common for grown-up children in India to live with their parents. Rai said the arrangement suited her fine; she did not have to take appointments to have dinner with her parents.
And she patiently answered the question over a dozen reporters, including one from Daily News, have asked her: Will she relocate to Hollywood? Actors are like gypsies, Rai said with a smile, and they have no problem moving around. But she wasn't thinking of a permanent move, she added.
The Daily News, with over 1.5 million readers, last week published a 1,200 word piece on Rai, titled India's Magnificent Obsession.
Ash is enjoying the wildest attention a foreign actress has received in recent years in America (it was a different era when Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida were lionised). Not even Zhang Ziyi, whose Hero grossed an impressive $50 million in the US leading her to the title role in Steven Spielberg's Memoirs Of A Geisha has received a fraction of the attention that Rai has commanded.
Despite all the attention Rai has been getting, her name did not appear in the quarter-page colour ad Bride And Prejudice distributor Miramax ran on Sunday in The New York Times. The ad, which used a still from the film showing her with Henderson, did not mention the names of the cast. But Chadha had her name in three places; along with her husband Paul Mayeda Berges as co-writer, as co-producer with Deepak Nayar and as the director.
In a few days, it will be time for a reality check; the reviews will start pouring in. Hollywood will have to decide if Rai is 'a world-class hottie' as Peter Travers declared in Rolling Stone magazine or just a beautiful 'still picture' as Richard Corliss complained in Time.
The interest in Rai also has to do partly with the success of desi directors such as Gurinder Chadha and Mira Nair in America. If they trust an actor, the logic seems to be, Hollywood has to pay serious attention.
Whether the publicity will lead Rai to a plum Hollywood role will depend considerably on how Bride And Prejudice plays to the crossover audience.
Some early reviewers have already written about Ash. '…A goddess in her native India, [she] will soon be adding Americans to her worshipful flock,' Travers declared in Rolling Stone.
Corliss, whose recent favourite movies include Devdas (that co-starred Rai), differed. 'She appears always to be fluffing her hair for the next fashion shoot,' he wrote. 'She's got moves on the dance floor; and… she smartly sells a few numbers that try to update the [Jane] Austen ethos ('I just wanna man who gives some back/ Who talks to me and not my rack'). What she can't do yet is suggest a complex spirit behind the lovely façade.'
Chadha is convinced Bride And Prejudice will outperform her surprise hit Bend it Like Beckham that grossed about $34 million in North America two years ago.
"Miramax knows, after several screen tests, that this is a populist film," declares Chadha.
She is not concerned if few people know about Jane Austen's novel that inspired the film. The film isn't advertised as based on the classic; at least the advertisements did not mention Austen.
"The novel was an inspiration, alright," Chadha says. "But we have given the film a contemporary and international outlook. Anyone can go into a theatre without knowing anything about Jane Austen or Bollywood and enjoy the film."
She wants the audiences to discover a whole new world, Chadha says, and a "wonderful star" called Ash.
But if her first film with an English-speaking role disappoints, Rai would lose much of her bargaining chips in Hollywood.
Another key factor that could come in her way of Hollywood dreams is that she doesn't want to move there permanently.
"Being visible in Hollywood means a lot," tennis player turned movie producer Ashok Amritraj, who had cast her in Jeans, had said last year. Big time actors can afford to live outside Hollywood, he said, but for someone from England or France looking for Hollywood roles, it was important to be seen and heard in the tinsel town. Nearly four decades ago, Shashi Kapoor failed to make inroads into Hollywood following Pretty Polly opposite Hayley Mills because he would not move to Hollywood or Britain. He had to be content with the films made by independent producers such as Ismail Merchant.
The only big Hollywood project Rai seems to be firming up now is the adventure drama Racing Monsoon, to be produced by Michael Douglas. But even in that film she will play an Indian character. Her big challenge will be to get a colourblind part or play a part other than South Asian in a big Hollywood production.
True, Rai has a part in the Meryl Streep film Chaos but the film doesn't look like a star-making vehicle for someone bound for Hollywood. Besides, it was announced two years ago and seems to have made no progress. Rai is credited as the lead actress in Roland Joffe's Singularity opposite Brendan Fraser, but details about the film's production schedule are not available.
David Letterman Honors Johnny Carson
Definitely in keeping with his fondness for privacy, and possibly in respect for his own wishes, Johnny Carson's family held no funeral.
But public memorials continue - in his hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska, and in the one place he no doubt knew they would: on television, the venue where millions invited the "Tonight Show" host into their homes night after night, gradually feeling he was one of the family.
Monday, David Letterman devoted his show - the first "Late Show with David Letterman" since Carson's death on Jan. 23rd - to tributes to Carson.
Letterman's monologue was comprised entirely of jokes that Carson had quietly sent to him over the past few months from retirement in California.
Letterman didn't tell the audience until after the monologue was over who wrote the jokes. His guest on Monday's show, former Carson producer Peter Lassally, had revealed a few days before Carson had died that the retired "Tonight" show host missed his nightly monologue and had written jokes for Letterman.
Johnny, even in his final months, couldn't resist a Paris Hilton joke.
Letterman noted how Hilton's dog, Tinker Bell, was missing for a few days because it was "with the Taco Bell chihuahua making a sex video."
Another joke noted that Democrat John Kerry, under fire for his Vietnam service record, was criticized for throwing away some of his military service medals.
"Not to be outdone, President Bush threw away his National Guard spotty attendance records," he said.
Some of Carson's other jokes involved low carb diets, Saddam Hussein and Donald Trump's hair.
"I moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1975, and the reason I moved is because of Johnny Carson and 'The Tonight Show,"' Letterman said. "And I'm not the only one. I would guess that maybe three generations of comedians moved to be where Johnny was because if you thought you were funny and you wanted to find out if you could hit major league pitching, you had to be on `The Tonight Show."'
Letterman said his first "Tonight" appearance led to his first NBC show.
"Truthfully, no stretch of the imagination, I owe everything in my professional career, whatever success we've attained, to Johnny Carson, because he was nice enough to give me the opportunity, and throughout my career, was always very supportive."
The entire show was devoted to Carson, filled with reminiscences from Lassally and Letterman. Lassally said Carson would call him frequently and read his monologue jokes, and it was only after prodding that he sent some to Letterman.
"He was delighted that you did them and that the audience laughed at them," Lassally said.
At the end, Carson bandleader Doc Severinsen and some of the former Tonight Show band - including put-upon sax player Tommy Newsome - performed one of Carson's favorite songs, "Here's That Rainy Day."
When Carson retired in May 1992, it set up a battle between Letterman and Jay Leno over who would succeed him. NBC chose Leno - but the joke pipeline was an indication that Carson privately considered Letterman the better host.
Letterman's CBS show was in reruns last week, allowing Leno the jump on a late-night Carson tribute. Leno's highly rated show last week included former Carson sidekick Ed McMahon and comics Bob Newhart and Don Rickles.
Letterman said everybody who's doing a talk show, himself included, is secretly doing Carson's "Tonight" show.
"The reason we're all doing Johnny's 'Tonight' is because you think, 'Well, if I do Johnny's "Tonight" show, maybe I'll be a little like Johnny and people will like me more,"' he said. "But it sadly doesn't work that way. It's just - if you're not Johnny - you're wasting your time."
David Letterman rules among men
For the third consecutive year, talk show host and general media behemoth Oprah Winfrey tops the Harris Interactive poll of favorite television personalities. In the 12 years that Harris Interactive has conducted these surveys, Oprah has never ranked outside of the top three and this is her fifth time in the top position.
Oprah's sometime-adversary David Letterman retains the No. 2 position from last year, though the late night veteran is joined by relative neophyte Jon Stewart. The "Daily Show" host first appeared on the Harris list last year, coming in at No. 6.
Holding down the No. 4 and No. 5 positions they occupied last year are Ray Romano and Jay Leno, while Bill Cosby makes his first Harris Interactive appearance since 2001, rising to No. 6. Ellen DeGeneres moved from No. 10 last year up to No. 7, as Bill O'Reilly was in free-fall, going from No. 3 last year to this year's No. 8 position. Dr. Phil McGraw also took a small dip, going from No. 6 last year to No. 9 this year, tied with Regis Philbin.
William Peterson, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Aniston and Martin Sheen all dropped off the list.
According to the Harris findings, Oprah is the most popular personality among women, political independents and Americans over the age of 65. Letterman rules among men, while Republicans apparently love Romano. Stewart is the favored personality among Democrats and among adults 18-29.
After sampling 2,376 adults for last year's survey, Harris Interactive only polled 1,036 adults this year, across a national cross section. The survey was conducted between Dec. 8 and 15, 2004.
Late Show with David Letterman
President Bush made a comment on his favourite painting in the White House. He said that seeing that even dogs can come up with a straight flush is inspiring.
Last week, Homeland Security deported singer Cat Stevens. And, today, they're closing in on Gordon Lightfoot.
The (vice-presidential debate) ended badly for John Edwards. Right after, he was roughed up in the parking lot by Cheney's lesbian daughter.
I went to the Bill Clinton book signing and I was surprised the book was already 30 per cent off -- just like his pants.
David Letterman performed for US marines in Iraq
David Letterman brought his late-night show to marines serving in Iraq on Friday, loosening up the Camp Taqaddum crowd with the line, "Anybody here from out of town?"
Letterman brought along musical director Paul Shaffer, stage manager Biff Henderson, comedian Tom Dreesen and the band Off the Wall.
When hands flew in the air in response to requests for a volunteer to help deliver the opening monologue, he asked: "Isn't that how you got here?"
With the help of cue cards held by an army soldier, Letterman ran off a series of crowd-pleasers:
"Iraqi elections are in January. Hurry up and pick somebody so we can get the hell out of here," he said.
And: "If I wanted to face insurgents I would've spent Christmas with my relatives.
Letterman has repeatedly featured marines on The Late Show.
"Paul and I were in Afghanistan three years ago, and last year we were in Baghdad," Letterman told the crowd. "We wouldn't want it any other way. We're sorry we keep having to come back. If you ever come to New York City, come see us and we'll treat you like big shots."
The marines, most of who have been deployed since late summer, welcomed the visit.
"It was great, all of the marines getting together having a good time," said Sgt. Ronald Trignano, 32, a tech-controller with Communication Squadron 48. "It almost makes you forget where you are for a little while."
David Letterman entertains Marines in Iraq
Television host David Letterman performed a Christmas Eve edition of The Late Show with David Letterman for U.S. Marines in Iraq.
The popular late night entertainer brought his crew and California's Off the Wall band to Camp Taqaddum for an open-air show, Marine.com reported Saturday.
"How about a nice hand for Jay Leno, ladies and gentlemen," joked Letterman as he started his show. He then asked for a volunteer from the crowd and hundreds of hands shot up in the air.
"Isn't that how you got here?" Letterman asked.
The Marines roared with laughter at his response to being in a combat zone: "I haven't seen anything like this since the last Pistons-Pacers game. If I wanted to face insurgents I would've spent Christmas with my relatives."
Letterman also took a few well-received jabs at Iran, suspected of meddling in Iraq's internal affairs.
"I hear Iran is developing a nuclear bomb; good news is that they're dropping it from a camel," he said.
Ilana, the Late Show Grinder Girl, and Anna, the Hula Hoop Girl, also got a warm welcome of cheers and applause as they performed their unique acts.
David Letterman gets his jabs in
Late-night talk-show hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman wasted no time poking fun at Friday night's Pacers-Pistons brawl at The Palace. Both hosts turned the melee into a lighthearted subject during their Monday night monologues.
On "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Leno "mistakenly" referred to Pacers forward Ron Artest as "Ron Arrest." Leno then asked his studio audience if it watched the newest reality show, "Who Wants to be Attacked by a Millionaire." Leno also drew laughter when he said, "It was probably the first sports event in history where the nosebleed seats were right in the front." Leno also said that "Commissioner David Stern handed out four suspensions and four Vibe Awards" -- in reference to the brawl that occurred on the Nov. 15 awards show in Santa Monica, Calif.
Letterman also made an Artest-Vibe reference on the "Late Show with David Letterman," saying "Ron Artest was suspended for the regular season, but the good news is that he'll be hosting the Vibe Awards next year."
A good laugh with David Letterman and Jay Leno
Jay Leno: “US forces have taken Fallujah. Experts say it’s going to be hard to keep Iraq’s insurgents from going after people in other cities. That will be hard. We can’t even keep the Indiana Pacers from going after people.”
Jay Leno: “In a speech at the big summit in Chile, President Bush said he will work hard to have a major guest worker program with Mexico. He says this way we can fill the empty jobs here that nobody wants. Like in his Cabinet.”
Jay Leno: “There’s now talk in political circles of amending the United States Constitution so Arnold Schwarzenegger could be president. The Democrats are against it. First, they want the Constitution changed so maybe a Democrat could be president again.”
Jay Leno: “The Clinton Presidential Library was opened last Thursday. Today, the city council of Little Rock voted to shut it down. Did you hear about this? Yeah, turns out the area is not zoned for adult businesses.”
David Letterman: “Those White House resignations – crazy, isn’t it? Colin Powell and everybody else taking a hike. And Tom Ridge, Homeland Security. How are we going to fill those shoes?”
David Letterman: “There was another White House resignation earlier today. Laura Bush! That’s right, Laura Bush is stepping down. She’s going to be replaced by Mary Tyler Moore.”
David Letterman: “Iran supposedly is working on a nuclear missile. That’s chilling. The good news is, however, they have to drop it from a camel.”
The Late Show with David Letterman and Howard Stern
Howard Stern has been nervous all week that he wouldn't get his message about his move to Sirius Satellite Radio across clearly, but the King of All Media came off calm, cool and collected during his appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. Dressed in jeans, t-shirt and black jacket, Stern sauntered on stage, rubbed Paul Shaffer's head and greeted Letterman before sitting down and delivering a crisp and well-planned message.
"My career is never normal," Stern said as he sat down to a louder than normal applause. Letterman’s first inquiry was about what precipitated the move to satellite radio, with Stern answering, "In recent years, because of the government interference and what’s been going on with the FCC [and] Clear Channel Broadcasting, doing my job every day has become increasingly difficult."
Stern then used a Chris Rock analogy to make his point. "If you were to take Chris Rock and put him on my radio station today, you would have to cut out 99% of his material. You would think Chris Rock sucked. It’s become increasingly difficult to do my show. The same show I did a year ago the government will fine me for. I have millions of dollars of fines against me and this is my way of checkmating the US government. I’ve got somewhere to go. We’re going to build a new future. This is the beginning of a new age."
"Are you suggesting that without dirty material and things that would not be allowed on your radio show, Chris Rock is not funny?" asked Letterman.
"I am suggesting that," Stern replied. "I’ve seen Chris Rock in situations where he can not be himself. I can’t be myself anymore on the radio. I’m not looking to get on the radio and say the F-word. I’m not looking to get on the radio and make everything so blatantly sexual. That’s not what this is about. I'm talking about ten, fifteen years ago, the topics I used to talk about on the radio, I’m now being fined millions of dollars for. Where does it end?"
Stern then brought up the recent furor over ABC's Monday Night Football opening skit this past week prior to the Philadelphia Eagles’ 49-21 trouncing of the Dallas Cowboys, giving him an opportunity to bring FCC Chairman Michael Powell into the conversation. "A woman took off her towel in front of a football player and now we’re talking about possible fines? What’s happened? It feels like we’re in a religious country. This guy Michael Powell…who is not elected to public office, he’s telling us what we can hear."
Letterman didn’t go down the Powell path, instead bringing the conversation back to Clear Channel, the government and the FCC by asking, "How are those three entities conspiring against you?"
"It is a conspiracy," said Stern, who then apologized for being so serious and joked that he usually comes on the show and does things like letting Letterman rub his buttocks. Letterman let Stern off the conspiracy hook and brought up the recent Rolling Stone article about Clear Channel, saying he was "stunned" to learn how the company has "played havoc with the record industry and the music industry and live concerts."
Letterman next asked why Stern’s show wouldn’t be subject to restrictions at Sirius. Stern gave his first sales pitch of the evening, admitting he was on The Late Show partially to ask his listeners to come with him to satellite radio. He then made the cable television comparison as to why the FCC would not be able to fine him. "When you pay for something, you’re paying for it to come into your home, much like cable or anything else," explained Stern. "That’s the reason the government can not regulate it. If you are paying for it, it’s not the public airwaves."
After a brief diatribe about the boundaries of sexual talk on the radio, Stern said he hasn't been allowed to discuss his move to Sirius during his show. "I’ve been unable to have this discussion on the radio," he said. "They’ll allow me to say Sirius radio and things like that, but I can’t really discuss with my audience how to convert over to satellite radio."
Letterman then used the opportunity to bring up a favorite topic of discussion by saying, "You can have a conversation using sexually explicit terms and be in trouble for it, whereas on the Oprah Winfrey Show, she can talk about penis all day and nothing happens." They joked over the Oprah’s "beloved" reason for lack of a FCC fine, but Letterman left the laughs behind by asking, "Is there a difference contextually if there is a discussion on your show in that context that makes it something we can’t have on the radio versus the context of Oprah’s show?" "No," Stern flatly replied. "Quite simply, Dave, we’re talking about the fact that nothing is fair anymore. Arbitrary decisions are being made. This has even gotten political. When I was working for Clear Channel, they fired me from nine stations on a whim. One of the reasons they fired me is I didn’t support President Bush. Clear Channel is busy throwing parties in markets for the Iraq war. I hardly think that is something you should be throwing a party for. They are throwing rallies. So I didn’t support that and the next day I was fired. My fellow broadcasters are not standing up for me. I am turning my back on regular terrestrial radio. I believe in five years, satellite radio will be the dominant medium in radio broadcasting."
Upon returning form a commercial break – which in Philadelphia contained a Stern voiced commercial for Infinity Active Rocker (and Stern’s Philly home) WYSP – Letterman indirectly asked about Opie & Anthony, not calling them by name. Stern handled the question by saying, "I would not support going into St. Patrick’s and having sex. That’s not honoring people who are religious. I’ve never been about that. I’m for outrageous radio. I’ll say whatever’s on my mind. I won’t invade somebody’s church and do something. That’s not my thing."
They next discussed Stern’s most recent fine for a caller using the N-word on his show with Letterman asking, "In what usage is [a racial slur] acceptable?" "There’s a way of disarming that kind of language if you confront it. That’s what I believe," replied Stern.
"Because of the government regulation, my syndication business has been stopped cold," Stern said while discussing his efforts against President Bush during the election. "I was on my way to being on all over the country. I can’t syndicate my show any more. Radio stations are deathly afraid of the religious right. They are afraid of the Bush administration and they are afraid to get on the wrong side of some guy named Michael Powell."
After another commercial break, Stern presented Letterman with a Sirius Satellite radio, explaining how to use it, before his appearance gave way to an Alanis Morrissette performance.