Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Will CBS dump Letterman?

Andrea Peyser in the New York Post:

CBS has got to dump David Letterman. Right now.

If the Tiffany Network continues to coddle the crotchety king of late night, it will rightly be known as the destination of choice for any girl who jiggles, giggles and puts out repeatedly for a man old enough to be her father.

Dave must go. If not, CBS will have lost any remaining shred of credibility, not to mention common decency.

By his own admission, the married Letterman has bedded any number of women working under His Highness. Problem is, he doesn't seem to know precisely how many. And brass has long looked the other way.

Letterman's dream life came crashing to earth when an ex-boyfriend of one of his conquests allegedly attempted to extort him for $2 million to keep the affairs quiet. This development certainly makes Dave a victim -- a victim of his own recklessness.

The very livelihoods of the young women who caught Dave's fancy depend on making Letterman happy. But Letterman, 62, certainly knew what he was doing.

This is a full-grown adult who made a grown-up choice. And he chose to sleep with junior staffers rather than take the standard route and walk to the corner bar to conduct a sad, ordinary affair. Instead, he's working out some twisted Freudian issues on dewy-eyed underlings.

Letterman is guilty of cheating on the woman he eventually married after a 20-year relationship and trashing the trust of their 6-year-old son, Harry. This was not one little slip-up, but a deviant pattern. And when Letterman got lazy, egotistical and sloppy, he became a ticking time bomb -- a walking, breathing, sexual-harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.

The man who has been famously stalked in the past intentionally made himself into stalker-bait. Worse, he became the punch line in one of his own Monica Lewinsky jokes, which Dave told with such glee not so long ago.

A former staffer at "Late Show" described to me a "toxic" atmosphere in the studio. She said women flirt mightily with the man. Sometimes, it works in their favor.

Everyone inside the program knows what it takes to get ahead.

In recent years, Dave's comedic chops have taken on a mean streak, as well. He has shown a wicked hatred of Republicans, which reached a climax when he joked about Sarah Palin's 14-year-old daughter, Willow, getting "knocked up" in the seventh inning of a Yankee game by Alex Rodriguez.

CBS brass could have taken that gag as a sign that Letterman was slipping. Instead, bosses chose to ignore it.

[. . .]

Letterman's contract expires at the end of next year. I count on CBS to pull Letterman off the air, then kick him to the curb.

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Bottom line is that CBS will dump Letterman if the audience turns him off but if he is still pulling in the numbers and making them money he will stay.

This saddens me since I used to be a fan of Letterman. Back when he was following the Tonight Show he was creative and funny. He stayed that way for a while after moving to CBS but then seemed to lose it, becoming bitter and mean - and unfunny.

It could be that he had expectations of beating the Tonight Show in the ratings and sunk into a permanent funk when he never managed to do so.

Whatever the reason for his deterioration I had given up on him before his sharp turn to the political left. This is why I was surprised by the "Palin incident" when I kept hearing callers to talk radio talk about how much he hated Republicans.

Whether CBS cancels Letterman or not each member of the audience has the power to do so just by changing the channel.