Host: Tom Snyder. #Guests: Candice Bergen, Robert and Kathleen Gingrich. David Letterman can rest easy. On the strength of Tuesday’s opener, he’s getting exactly what he paid for in selecting Tom Snyder to follow his own program: Mostly intelligent talk, delivered by the kind of pro broadcaster who could hold down an entire network for several hours, unprepared and virtually single-handed , as he did last year when electronic problems halted CNBC’s New Jersey-based broadcast.
True to his promise, Snyder’s new CBS show, following “Late Night With David Letterman,” is the same as his previous CNBC show — or, for that matter, his ABC radio network entry, or (minus the constant string of cigarettes) his pioneering NBC latenight strip “Tomorrow.” Of all the one-on-one talkshows, Snyder’s remains the most solidly host-driven; you’re as likely to hear about what Snyder has been up to on any given day as you are to gain insights about his guests.
On Tuesday’s debut, for instance, viewers got to hear about how security guards at KCBS-TV refused him admittance for a promotional noon news interview earlier that day (he went home), and that “in my 8 1/2 years on (NBC), not once did Johnny Carson say, ‘Stay tuned for Tom Snyder.’ ” Of course, Carson didn’t have a financial stake in “Tomorrow,” while Letterman’s Worldwide Pants produces “The Late Late Show.” Indeed, Letterman’s Monday show plugged Snyder’s debut incessantly, if comically.
First-night guests were Candice Bergen — smart, funny, not particularly consequential — and real newsmakers, the parents of House Speaker Newt Gingrich , via satellite from their Pennsylvania home.
Snyder treated the Gingriches respectfully, throwing softball questions and drawing out their sometimes curt (though not unfriendly) responses. For their part, Robert and Kathleen Gingrich showed some dry wit. Mrs. Gingrich said, “I think it’ll be quite awhile before I go whispering again,” and gave the impression that she wasn’t bamboozled by Connie Chung: “She didn’t ask me anything I couldn’t answer.”
Snyder’s program is telecast live from TV City to the East Coast, simulcast on radio across the country and tape-delayed for TV in the West.