David Letterman is well known for shunning public events like CBS’ upfront. But in the midst of big late-night changes at NBC and ABC, the veteran late-night host showed up at the CBS presentation for the first time in 15 years. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves broached the subject. “What’s going on out there in late-night? All of a sudden, everybody’s got a Jimmy: they have a Jimmy, they have a Jimmy,” referring to NBC’s and ABC’s new 11:30 PM hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, respectively. “We thought we don’t have a Jimmy. Jimmy Buffet is too tropical, Jimmy Carter too political, Jimmy Hoffa not available. There are a lot of Jimmys out there but there is only one Dave, David Letterman.” Letterman walked out to a thunderous applause and engaged in a looong hug with Moonves. “I’m honored to be here for your pledge drive,” Letterman quipped, proceeding to make fun of CBS head of sales Joanne Ross’ projection dress. “Everyone here is very excited to see me, they think I’m Bob Schieffer. When Leslie invited me here, I thought I was being fired.”
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“This man has been nothing but supportive of me and my staff, I can’t think of being at a better place,” Letterman said, pointing to Moonves. “Doesn’t he look great after the gastric lap band surgery. This is the man who single-handedly is saving network television.”
Said Moonves after Letterman left the stage, “We love that guy and we’re proud to have the best in the business and a true legend call CBS home.”
Later at the CBS upfront party, Moonves said it was his idea to invite Letterman. “I thought with all the changes in late-night, he is the dean,” he said. Moonves also said he wrote most of remarks about Letterman himself, including the “Jimmys” one. He said he expected Letterman to come out and say nice things about CBS but he did not expect that hug, which caught him completely off guard.