Helaine sent me a link a few minutes ago. Don Herbert, Mr. Wizard, has died.
Here’s what I wrote about him three years ago.
Don Herbert had a profound influence on my formative years. He was “American Idol” for many 1950’s nerds. He’ll be missed.
I know a lot of traffic comes here via Google every year at this time, looking for my info on Darlene Love’s annual Letterman appearance. Darlene will be on Late Night with David Letterman this Friday, December 23, 2005. The info comes from Darlene’s website.
As long as you’re here, read my blog.
Every year, on the last show before Christmas, David Letterman has Jay Thomas on trying to knock a meatball off a Christmas tree with a football. I can live without that.
On that last show he also has Darlene Love singing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” I look forward to it every year. Tonight’s the night!
This is worth watching and taping.
First, Darlene is dynamite. She sells every note and gives this Phil Spector classic the respect it deserves. If she’s lost anything since this song was released over 40 years ago, I’m not hearing it.
Letterman goes all out bringing in a huge choir and string section. The sax solo is usually played by David Sanborne. Paul and the boys turn it up.
But really, it’s all Darlene. She owns it.
There is no doubt it is my favorite Christmas song. My DVR is set.
I’m going to say bad things, so let me start by saying nice things. It’s part of my inherited guilt.
I think David Letterman is the king of talk show hosts. I have been watching him for at least 25 years – maybe more. He has always been on edge, always been witty, always been funny.
Back in Buffalo I kvetched and complained until our program director, Vicki Gregorian, began running his NBC late night show. Did I have anything to do with our finally clearing it? Probably not, but it still felt good and was the right thing to do.
Before I left Buffalo, I threw a party and sent an invitation to Dave. He never answered. I never thought he would, but it was an expression of the depth of my admiration for him.
There have actually been times when I’ve purposely not watched Dave because I felt I was ripping him off. I didn’t do it on purpose, his influence was that strong.
At home, I have the DVR set to record his show every night. I only watch once or twice a week and then I skim. The truth is, Late Night with David Letterman has gotten stale. It hurts me to say that because of all the respect I still have for Dave.
Tonight was a perfect example of what’s gone wrong. Much of the first half of the show was taken up by tired, reused bits like “Will It Float” and “Know Your Current Events.” This is the antithesis of what made Dave what he is – unpredictable, off-the-wall material. This is the guy who jumped into the water wearing a suit of Alka Seltzer, crushed items with a steamroller, and dropped watermelons off a building.
The show can be saved, but someone’s going to have to shock him into it. I don’t know Dave personally, but everything I’ve read says that won’t be easy. It’s time to scrap the repetition and move on.
Who has the guts to tell him?
As it is, a much less astute, less intellectual, but harder working Jay Leno cleans up in the ratings. It just shouldn’t be. Dave has to take a fair share of the blame. Now it’s time to move on and regain what once was.