David Letterman’s hale and hearty return to The Late Show Feb. 21 seemed to be almost business as usual. Except for one thing: Since he opted not to do a Top Ten list, we thought we’d provide a by-the-numbers recap of our own.
TOP 10 CONVERSATION TOPICS ABOUT LETTERMAN’S COMEBACK
10 Saving Spielberg’s Kidney
Manic comic Robin Williams, clad in surgical scrubs, toted a cooler he claimed was filled with celebrity anatomical souvenirs, including Michael Jackson’s former nose and one of Cher’s ribs. But, according to EW’s moles, Williams’ mention of Spielberg’s kidney was surgically excised after the taping. Apparently, it cut too close to the bone.
9 Hold the Mayo
Occasional guest Rupert Jee, owner of the nearby Hello Deli, has concocted a more aorta-friendly version of his Letterman sandwich: ”I’m going to give customers a lo-cal option without the cheese, mayo, and oil” — leaving turkey, ham, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers, vinegar, and a roll.
8 Richard Simmons Forgives Him
The Deal-A-Meal doyen stormed off the stage during his Late Show visit last year but wants it known there are no hard feelings. ”I just want him to take it slowly and eat right and exercise,” Simmons says of his ”sweet David Letterman.” Who’s he talking about?
7 Leno, Look Out
The first postop show scored a 9.3 rating — the third highest since the show’s 1993 premiere, and a 138 percent jump over the previous week’s show. ”To put it in context,” says executive producer Rob Burnett, ”with Hillary Clinton we got an 8.6.” Welcome home, indeed.
6 The One That Got Away
An A-list no-show: Tom Hanks. Burnett says he tried ”really hard” to book the Green Mile star, who was vacationing with his family.
5 The Other One That Got Away
Although favorite guest Julia Roberts was slated to appear on the Feb. 23 episode, Burnett had hoped she would host on one of Letterman’s off nights: ”Turns out she’s a movie star and her schedule is a little tight.”
4 Trickle-Down Economics
For Mujibur Rahman, Late Show guest and manager of the neighboring K & L Rock America souvenir shop, Dave’s return came just in time: ”Ninety percent of our business depends on tourists, so if Dave’s not around, we suffer very greatly.”
3 Near Death Becomes Him
Some of Letterman’s best cracks never aired. Before the taping, Letterman sprinted on stage and the crowd rose to its feet. ”Nothing makes me feel better than a phony standing ovation,” he joked. Then: ”How many of you came here just to see if I’d drop dead?”
2 ”And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt”
The commemorative, suture-emblazoned shirts handed out to audience members are already hot booty, fetching more than $150 at online auctioneer eBay.
1 Prognosis: Positive
Dr. O. Wayne Isom, one of the surgeons who performed Letterman’s quintuple bypass, says he told Dave ”he ought to get 30 years out of this.” The doc adds: ”It’s not going to keep him from getting hit by a truck, or cancer, but if he takes care of himself, he can put this whole thing behind him.”
Additional reporting by Troy Patterson and David Nemetz.