Commentary

Annals Of Dave: Bearded Wonder Breaks Promise, Returns To TV

David Letterman's credentials as a media hipster are no longer limited to the Brooklyn-style beard he has been sporting ever since he left CBS.

Now Dave, 70, is to be reborn as an SVOD disrupter on Netflix, which happens to be Public Enemy No. 1 for the broadcasting industry where he made his career.

“Alright, that's pretty much all I got,” he said on his final “Late Show” on CBS on May 20, 2015, just before a closing performance by Foo Fighters. “The only thing I have left to do for the last time on a television program -- thank you and good night.”

This may have seemed like a definitive farewell to television, but it was not. Dave returns today (January 12) with a new talk show on Netflix.

Although some of the talk will undoubtedly to be lighthearted, Letterman's new show is not positioned as a comedy show in the manner of the late-night shows he hosted on NBC and CBS for 33 years.

The nine-word title of this one-hour show is “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman.” Six episodes are planned that will be rolled out monthly. Although the first guest needs no introduction, he is Barack Obama.

In the photo above, the fun-loving ex-president is evidently enjoying a lighthearted chuckle with the bearded one over an office-building fire hose (or possibly a fire extinguisher). That Dave! Still finding the funny in the simplest things.

The other guests who “need no introduction” will be George Clooney, Jay-Z, Tina Fey, Howard Stern and Malala Yousafzai.

However, please forgive me, but I actually did need an introduction for Malala Yousafzai. She is the famed activist from Pakistan who is the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Prize. I just did not know her in the instant way in which most of us know Howard Stern or George Clooney. This is why introductions can come in handy.

A brief press release from the Netflix publicity department described each episode of “My Next Guest…” as “centered around one extraordinary figure whom Dave finds fascinating.

“In interviews that take place both inside and outside a studio setting,” this description continued, “the conversations are intimate, in-depth and far-reaching, with the levity and humor Dave's fans know and love [perhaps like the fire hose gag Dave sprang on Obama].”

A subsequent communique from Netflix p.r. described the Obama interview: “In the interview, Obama discusses his family, life after the presidency and what he views as the pressing issues facing our country.”

Curiously, though, the Netflix p.r. department didn't provide any quotes from the “pressing issues” portion of the interview. Instead they released a portion of transcript in which Obama talked about the embarrassment of being a dad who can’t dance. Alrighty then.

Based on the guest list, descriptions and photo that you have seen so far in this TV Blog, please raise your hand if you are excited about this new David Letterman interview show.

I see some of you are, but not all of you. That's not unlike the situation (multiplied a million-fold) when Letterman competed with Jay Leno and Leno beat him in the ratings from 1995 to 2009, and then 2010 to 2014 (with Conan O'Brien taking up a few months on "The Tonight Show" in-between Leno's two stints).

I have always thought of Letterman as an acquired taste that not everyone acquired. Speaking for myself, and with all due respect to the innovations David Letterman brought to late-night TV in a stellar and admirably lengthy career, I was always more of a Leno guy anyway.

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