Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night
You can watch any of the numerous late-night talk shows that currently are being broadcast and see the influence of David Letterman, according to Jason Zinoman in Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night. The author has written a book that not only is a biography of Letterman but also a detailed history of the groundbreaking shows that he hosted. In addition to using the substantial amount of material that already had been written about the host and his shows, Zinoman conducted interviews with Letterman himself and almost every individual who had a key role on the shows, including bandleader Paul Shaffer, director Hal Gurnee, and Merrill Markoe, who was both Letterman’s girlfriend for most of the 1980s and the writer who came up with “Stupid Pet Tricks” and many other popular recurring segments. Zinoman emphasizes the influence of Markoe and others in making Letterman’s shows so innovative; Letterman is presented as someone who would have been happy doing a somewhat more traditional show. Although the author admits to being a big fan of Letterman, he also presents the details of the many professional problems between Letterman and his staff, and the scandals involving his personal life as he traces the evolution of Letterman’s shows until his retirement in 2015. Even for a reader who already is well-versed on the story of Letterman’s life and the history of his shows, this book is filled with new anecdotes and insight.
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