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Friday, April 04, 2014

Letterman, Madonna, and F-Bombs, Oh My!

As I continue with this blogging project, it comes to my attention that the more I do this blog, the tougher it is to come up with original topics.  Particularly with the subject of television.

You see, these days, I don't really watch a whole lot of network television.  I either purchase DVD box sets or I download them from the Internet.  I certainly don't have much interest in any of the current television programs that are on the air, although I have seen an episode or two of both "Breaking Bad" and "The Walking Dead", and liked what I saw.

Of course, doing a whole blog topic on either program at this time would be considered a bit of a challenge, given that I haven't nearly seen enough shows to craft a decent blog entry.

(Though maybe one day, I'll get the motivation to begin a Netflix account and have a Walking Dead or Breaking Bad marathon.  And, then maybe I can come up with a decent blog topic for those two shows.)

But then we all heard some news coming right out of New York City that stunned some people, surprised others, and made some people actually wonder why the announcement wasn't made years earlier.  But then, I suppose your opinion might differ based on whether you were a fan of his or not.

Earlier yesterday evening, the news came out that longtime late night talk show host David Letterman would be hanging up his suits and microphone for good and end his show sometime in the year 2015.  And, this was quite a big announcement as Letterman has been more or less in the public eye since he began his career as a radio talk show host in the early 1970s.  Since 1982, he has hosted late night programs on two different networks (NBC from 1982-1993 and CBS from 1993 to presumably 2015), and it is estimated that he has interviewed thousands of guests over his tenure at both "Late Night With David Letterman", and "The Late Show With David Letterman". 

TRIVIA:  Believe it or not, Letterman was inspired to go into the world of late night talk shows after appearing as a guest on "The Tonight Show" back when Johnny Carson still hosted it.  And, Letterman used to make frequent appearances on the show during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and for a decade, Letterman's show always followed "The Tonight Show" right up to Carson's retirement in 1992.  In fact, many believed that Letterman would actually take over "The Tonight Show" after Carson departed.  Therefore, I find it interesting that a little over a year to the day that Jay Leno took over the program that Letterman defected to CBS.  Things that make you go hmmm...

It's really unclear as to what is going to happen once Letterman retires from his job.  Never mind the fates of Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra!

My actual hope is that Craig Ferguson ends up taking his old time slot, as he currently hosts the Late Late Show (and because I'm a huge Craig Ferguson fan and if Letterman has to leave, he would be a great fit).  After all, when Jay Leno left for the second and final time earlier this year, Jimmy Fallon took over his old show, and Seth Meyers took over Jimmy's old show, and etc, etc, etc.  But one thing is for sure...David Letterman certainly had some interesting guests over the years. 

After all, it was David Letterman who orchestrated the Sonny Bono and Cher reunion for the first time since they got divorced back in the 1970s.  Turned out that the reunion was one of the most watched shows in Letterman's whole tenure as a late night talk show host.

It was David Letterman who coined the phrase "Stupid Pet Tricks" and showcased hundreds of pets over the years doing stunts and party tricks that amused nearly everybody who watched them.

It was David Letterman who sprayed Richard Simmons with a fire extinguisher - which lead to Simmons boycotting the show after that incident.  Actually, does anyone know if Richard Simmons was ever invited back to the show since?  The only guests that I seem to recall David Letterman banning are Harmony Korine, Harvey Pekar, and quite possibly Crispin Glover...and yet somehow, Courtney Love can flash Letterman while standing on his desk and somehow that's okay.  Who knows what the real story was anyway?

But through the thousands of celebrity interviews that David Letterman performed over his thirty plus years as one of late night's most talked about hosts, which interview was the most talked about?

Well, I can tell you exactly what my opinion is.  And most of you may agree with my thought.

Here's another interesting piece of trivia.  At the time this interview was airing, I was actually up to watch it.  See, back then I was in the seventh grade, and my parents did allow me to stay up to watch David Letterman - provided that I got all of my homework done before.  So, I was definitely up late on the thirty-first day of March, 1994 to watch an episode of "The Late Show With David Letterman".

And, what an episode it was at that!

The big guest of the hour?  Well, I'll give you a hint.  At the time of the interview, she was in between albums.  Her most recent album at the time of her interview was the sexually-charged "Erotica" (released in 1992), and she was set to release another album within the year (which would become 1994's "Bedtime Stories"). 

TRIVIA:  I'd consider "Bedtime Stories" to be one of the better Madonna albums out there, but that is solely my opinion and really has nothing to do with the David Letterman episode.

But while "Bedtime Stories" may have been one of Madonna's better albums...her 1994 sit down with David Letterman was probably one of her worst interviews that she ever did, and right from the very beginning, it was a complete train derailment that people talked about and joked about for weeks.

Now, you have to understand where Madonna was in her life in 1994.  Throughout the 1980s, Madonna was arguably the biggest female act around.  With hit singles such as "Like A Virgin", "Material Girl", "Papa Don't Preach", and "Express Yourself", Madonna dominated the charts with a few number one singles.  Her first four studio albums sold millions of copies each, and as the 1980s closed, Madonna was entering the 1990s on top with a role in Dick Tracy, and a #1 hit dance track with "Vogue".

But right around 1991 was when things began to take a completely different direction with Madonna.  That was the year in which her "Justify My Love" video was banned from MTV for being too sexy and controversial.  A year later, another Madonna video "Erotica", was banned from the channel as well.  And, who could forget that infamous "Sex" book?

(Not that I actually ever looked at that book myself...but I'm sure that some copies still exist somewhere if you really wanted to seek one out.)

The point is that the early 1990s were a rather weird time for Madonna.  She was in her early-to-mid thirties, and she found herself competing against the likes of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and Kylie Minogue.  I guess the way that Madonna decided to stay relevant during that time was to sell herself without actually...well...selling herself. 

So, when she agreed to appear as a guest on David Letterman's show that fateful March evening, nobody knew - least of all Letterman - how bizarre that evening would be.  Had the interview occurred one day later, one might consider it to have been an elaborate April Fools Day joke. 

Now, below is that infamous interview as taken from "The Late Show With David Letterman" as broadcast that March 1994 day.  I figure that it would be the most proper way to end this blog off.  After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a thousand thoughts.  And, when those thoughts include an awful lot of censoring, you know it's got to be a major train wreck! the heck did Letterman get through that interview with a straight face?

Interestingly enough, although Madonna's actions on the show were "bizarre" to say the least, Letterman has since given Madonna a second chance, and her subsequent appearances on his show have been more normal...well, as normal as Madonna's life can be at this moment, I suppose.  After all, if the feud between Letterman and Oprah Winfrey can be healed, then sweeping what Madonna did the night of March 31, 1994 under the rug was an easy decision.

And we still have a little over a year left of David Letterman to enjoy still.  Who knows?  Maybe some other celebrity will have an interview that even trumps the Madonna one and will earn a permanent spot in the hall of infamy.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West...I'm lookin' at you two.

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