Jimmy Fallon got Lindsay Lohan first — but David Letterman got her best when he turned her visit to his CBS late-night program into a sparring match with Oprah Winfrey, aka Lohan’s life coach/reality-series producer. In the segment taped today for tonight’s show (see the clip below), Lohan is the one who first said, “Should we call Oprah?” while she and Dave were talking. As befits the importance of the occasion — Lohan’s OWN ratings are taking a tumble, with most recently episode scoring only 390,000 viewers — the child-star-turned-adult-actress-train-wreck is dressed as a bedazzled baby-grand piano. Dave responds, grumpily, “No, we’re not.” This back and forth continued for a while — Lohan staunchly pro-Oprah-calling, Dave steadfastly anti-Oprah-calling, until the call is finally made. Raise your hand if you too thought all along that would be the outcome.
Dave starts off strong, throwing Oprah off by using another voice. “Who is this?” she asks dubiously, growing even frostier when he says he’s Lohan’s assistant — presumably because Oprah doesn’t take calls from assistants. “It’s Dave, Oprah,” Letterman cackles. “Oh my God — Very good, Dave!” Winfrey says, graciously conceding the point, adding, “The David Letterman who’s retiring?”
They prattle on merrily for a brief while; Dave asks Oprah how she thinks Lohan is doing now that she has completed the latest rehab stint at the heart of her OWN reality series. “I think she’s doing OK, what do you think?” Oprah says, noncommittally, not wanting to give away the ending of the series by pronouncing Lohan healed. “I loved her since she was 6 years old, Letterman responds, only slightly creepily.
“I think she’s doing really OK,” Winfrey says — still a ringing non-endorsement for Hollywood. Nonetheless, Lohan, who’s grateful for any morsel, tears up. “I think, uh, you know, to have cameras following you around for every phase of your life, and you are trying to pull your life together, I think that’s a really difficult thing, so, yeah, we’re really pleased she’s making some progress,” Oprah continues evasively. Dave, the old pro, knows exactly what to do with that straight line: “Oprah, I’ve spent 30 years trying to pull my life together. Where the hell have you been?”
To recap: Dave 2. Oprah: 0.
Oprah sees an opening to plug one of her protégés, Meditation Bob, noting Dave ought to be doing just fine because he’s seeing Oprah-endorsed Meditation Bob — who, she points out, she’s also got Lohan seeing as well. Big score for Oprah, who moves ahead.
But, it’s always a mistake to count Dave out. “You know what else, Oprah, that I’ve switched to now, that is really fantastic? Scientology!” he snarks, demonstrating again why he’s the best interviewer on broadcast late-night TV.
Watch it here: