Sunday, February 7, 2010

Letterman-Leno Super Bowl Ad: Yes, it was real!

Like a lot of other viewers, I initially wondered if the "Late Show" ad featuring David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno was real... or some kind of CGI trickery. After all, given the events of the past few weeks, it seems like former pals Leno and Letterman were, more than ever, mortal enemies, and perhaps only James Cameron-style technical wizardry could bring them together on the same couch. Especially considering that Dave broke out his whiny-Jay impersonation.

However, it was real -- and it was Dave's idea, according to "Late Show" producer Rob Burnett. "Well, the 10 seconds we did with Dave and Oprah for the Super Bowl in 2007 went pretty well and CBS came back and said we got 10 seconds again for this one," Burnett told "Nothing is more simultaneously exhilarating and fear-inducing than hearing you have 10 seconds in the Super Bowl. We were banging heads together. How do we come close to topping the last one? Then Dave got this idea. My first call was to Oprah – she got it right away – and then I called [CBS Corp. Chairman] Les Moonves to make sure he was OK with Jay being on CBS. I have to give Les credit … he got it immediately. And then I called [Leno's executive producer] Debbie Vickers … who said, ‘Dave and Jay, in the same room?’ She laughed for a good minute and said Jay would want to call. I hung up, and two minutes later it was Jay. He said ‘This is the way show business should be.’"

Leno snuck in the Ed Sullivan Theater wearing "a disguise… a hooded sweatshirt, dark sunglasses and a mustache." Was it an awkward situation? "There was no frostiness. We were focused on trying to execute the joke. It would have been a more taxing event had it been us all going out to dinner."

Did Dave worry that he was giving his once and future competitor a boost? Said Burnett: "Dave has a simple edict: If it’s funny, we do it... if you’re a comedian and you have the chance to do something funny in front of 100 million people, you should do it."

Watch the ad here.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Anyone have a link to the Dave-Oprah spot from three years ago?

  2. Anonymous said...

    My jaw hit the ground when I saw the commercial. I'm in South America, so I don't watch the Super Bowl, but I heard the buzz through Twitter and I was lucky that the video on CBS' website, wasn't blocked for my country, as many many videos are.

    I laughed a lot and wondered if it was real too, and after reading a tweet by one of the Late Show writers, I knew it was the real deal and I was surprised all over again.

    Kudos to Dave AND Jay for putting their differences aside for the sake of a good laugh and ratings, even if it was only for 10 seconds of airtime.


  3. Talk Show News said...

    mehnonymous, I've edited the post to add a link to the 2007 ad.

    Santiago, I think this ad will prove to have been good for Jay's image. He was smart to say yes -- and Dave was a comic genius to have come up with the idea!

  4. Anonymous said...

    At least we now know which of the two had a "chip" on their shoulder. ~

  5. Anonymous said...

    Thanks, Sue.