The seats were black. The carpet was green. And the host wore pink. With very little fanfare, David Letterman threw a 30-minute housewarming at the newly restored Ed Sullivan Theatre earlier this month. Advertised as the Late Show With David Letterman test run, 500 people — recruited off the streets of midtown Manhattan — were given the first peek at CBS’ $10 million restoration. They also heard a monologue from Dave and were given some lovely parting gifts (CBS Sports T-shirts). Among the highlights:
· Letterman, in a pastel shirt and blue pants, walked on stage and received a standing ovation from the audience, which was asked about the theater’s seats (comfy), its look (no asbestos), and its temperature (a crisp 62 degrees). Dave was in fine form, querying the crowd: ”Is anyone from Indiana?” When someone said yes, Dave replied, ”Okay, I’ll speak very slowly.”
· Paul Shaffer wasn’t there (”He didn’t get the memo,” joked Letterman), but Calvert DeForest, known during the NBC era as Larry ”Bud” Melman, was on hand. NBC’s claim that it owns the rights to various elements of the old show prevents Dave from mentioning the word Melman, but Dave is tripping over the new name: ”Larry, are you out here yet, er, Calvert.” Other changes: Shaffer’s band becomes the CBS Orchestra and will now feature a woman — guitarist Felicia Collins.
· The show’s current 80-commercial promo blitz might not be enough to get viewers to tune in. As the audience exited the theater, one Dave fan asked, ”When they said 11:30, was that a.m. or p.m.?”