David Letterman Will Explore Climate Change For National Geographic Docu-Series

Emmy Awards Contenders 2015
Courtesy of CBS

David Letterman has a new hosting gig – of sorts.

The veteran late-night comedian will in 2016 journey to India to examine how that nation is trying to bring solar power to its entire population within the next decade. It’s a far cry from rattling off the popular Top Ten Lists and Stupid Pet Tricks that were so much a part of his more than three decades of wee-hours television for CBS and NBC. But it’s a chance for Letterman to give voice to the issue of climate change on a new, albeit temporary, home: National Geographic Channel.

Letterman will join Jack Black, Ty Burrell, James Cameron, Thomas Friedman, Joshua Jackson , Aasif Mandvi, Olivia Munn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ian Somerhalder and Cecily Strong in the second season of the documentary series “Years of Living Dangerously,” which explores the issue of climate change and won a 2014 Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series. The project is the first Letterman has announced since leaving “The Late Show” on CBS last May.

A spokesman for Letterman said the comedian declined to comment.

Working a late-night show for so many years usually ends up with the host being viewed as something of an American institution. For some who hold forth on the programs, that’s enough. Johnny Carson didn’t really tackle any projects of great note once he left “Tonight” in 1992 (though he did contribute jokes to Letterman). Hosts of a more recent vintage seem to want to keep working. Jay Leno is the central focus of a new show about cars slated to run in primetime on CNBC. Jon Stewart turned up unexpectedly as one of the executive producers of the new iteration of “The Late Show” on CBS, hosted by his Comedy Central colleague, Stephen Colbert. Craig Kilborn, Arsenio Hall, Craig Ferguson and Chelsea Handler have all tried their hand at various projects.

Letterman’s new endeavor may have some serious intent behind it. David Gelber and Joel Bach, the series’ producers, said they thought they noticed Letterman become more animated on “The Late Show” when discussion of climate change came to the fore, and decided to reach out to him. “You could just tell. Whenever they would have a climate discussion, he would really kind of perk up,” noted Bach, in an interview. “And it turns out he does, he cares about it a lot,” he said. “He’s definitely invested in this issue.”

Letterman, the producers said, has never visited the country.

The producers never really had to wrangle celebrities in past jobs  – well, except for folks like Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, Lesley Stahl and Morley Safer. Gelber worked at “60 Minutes” for 27 years, and met Bach when he joined the show as an associate producer. As stories related to climate change came and went, Gelber said he realized “this really is the big story out there. There is nothing – maybe except nuclear war – that compares to climate change as an important story. The big media is basically underplaying it, ignoring it,” he thought as he tackled his regular duties. As much as the pair enjoyed working at “60,” they said, they wanted to devote more time to covering the single issue, and knew they could not do it at the newsmagazine.

So they took a chance, taking time to develop a documentary to explore the topic. Bach reached out to an old college friend who happened to be the niece of Jerry Weintraub, the famous TV producer who died in July. As luck would have it, he expressed interest, advising the pair to forego a documentary and instead envision the project as a TV series.

The lessons of “60 Minutes” are not far from their thoughts. “The voice of Don Hewitt is still in my brain,” said Gelber, referring to the legendary CBS News executive who created the program. “We have to find strong characters, stories that have uncertain outcomes,” he explained. “We try to take it to the next level in terms of cinematography.”

For National Geographic Channel, “Years” is an example of the types of “ambitious projects” the network wants to see more of, said Courteney Monroe, chief executive of National Geographic Channels U.S., in an interview. The company, which counted 21st Century Fox as a backer as part of a joint venture, is now held more closely under the corporation’s umbrella than it is the non-profit National Geographic Society. The network want to work more closely with the creative community to “become a premium network for content around science and exploration and adventure,” she said.

In 2016, one of those adventures will feature David Letterman in the role of explorer and science correspondent.

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  1. All quite interesting, beside the point, and so what. The points that matter:

    1) IPCC AR5 (Table 6.1) has no idea how much of the CO2 increase between 1750 and 2011 is due to industrialized man because the contributions of the natural sources and sinks are a massive WAG. Hard to say whether the sudden appearance of 2.6 trillion trees helps or hinders.

    2) The 2 W/m^2 RF that IPCC AR5 attributes to that CO2 increase between 1750 & 2011 (SPM C) and that “unbalances” the global heat balance is lost in the magnitudes and uncertainties of the major factors in the global heat balance, i.e. ToA (340 W/m^2 +/- 10 W/m^2), clouds (-20 W/m^2 +/-?), reflection, absorption, +/-, etc. CO2’s a third or fourth decimal point bee fart in a hurricane. Are they as far off with the heat balance as with the trees?

    3) IPCC AR5 admits in text box 9.2 that their GCM’s cannot explain the pause/hiatus/lull/stasis probably because their climate sensitivity is incorrect (Google “Climate Change in 12 Minutes”), as acknowledged in TS.6, and their GCMs & RCPs 3.0, 4.5, 6.0, 8.5 are consequentially useless. The oceans didn’t eat the heat, it was the water absorbed by 2.6 trillion trees.

  2. I’ve been trying to reach him for the Cleantech Open without success. I believe he is a spokesperson for solutions. National Geographic might like us, too. We have hundreds of alumni from the accelerator who are working on or already have solutions.

  3. LudicrousSextus says:

    Amusing stuff. Ya’ just can’t choose a better ‘salesman’ for a phony project. Well, you could…but then you’d be giving a platform to guys like this..

    “The idea it would be catastrophic if carbon dioxide were to increase and average global temperature were to rise a few degrees is preposterous.”

    Patrick Moore, Ph.D. – leader in international environmentalism for more than 40 years. He cofounded Greenpeace and currently serves as chair of Allow Golden Rice

    • Dave J. says:

      I don’t think they’ll be talking about carbon dioxide but will talk about carbon monoxide since motor vehicles that use gas is a huge contributor to climate change!

  4. Randall says:

    I never expected Dave would want to get involved in a Fiction series.

  5. Duke Nulem says:

    Cool, I am glad he is on board, the more celebrities that emphasize this issue the better we can come to grips with it. Good job Dave.

  6. Sam America says:

    MORE LIBERAL FANTASY CLIMATE CHANGE I MEAN GLOBAL WARMING I MEAN ….OH WHAT
    ARE THE MORONS ON THE LEFT CALLING IT THESE DAYS? IT IS A HOAX. AND LETTERMAN
    WILL BE FUNNIER DOING THIS THAN ON THE LATE SHOW SINCE THIS IS SUCH A JOKE!
    PEOPLE ARE ON TO THIS SCAM AND ALL THE OTHER SO CALLED ‘LIBERAL DOOM AND
    GLOOM’ PROPAGANDA TO FURTHER THEIR AGENDA TO TAKE OVER AND CONTROL
    EVERYTHING WE THINK AND SAY AND DO AND BECOME RICHER AND MORE POWERFUL!

    • Dave J. says:

      If climate change or global warming doesn’t exist as you say, why are there more droughts and floods happening throughout the country of the United States! Is it because you don’t live in some of those areas where there are water restrictions imposed like in LA or California! To be right wing can afford to be ignorant and retarded since they need other oil and gas corporations to think for them since they don’t value their own lives as much as anyone else’s. Perhaps you should change whatever job you’re doing and start working in nuclear facilities, coal mines and oil instead of calling it a left wing thing otherwise shut the f-ck up!

    • Mark Josefsberg says:

      “TO FURTHER THEIR AGENDA TO TAKE OVER AND CONTROL
      EVERYTHING WE THINK AND SAY AND DO AND BECOME RICHER AND MORE POWERFUL!” You have to try to be less of a scared, angry, little boy.

  7. cadavra says:

    Except that NatGeo was just purchased by Fox, which means the show will be revamped to prove climate change is a hoax…

  8. Kip W says:

    Back to something like his meteorological roots? I can only hope that he’ll get to use the line, “hailstones the size of canned hams” again.

  9. Ken says:

    Some of the best interviews Mr. Letterman ever conducted were when he had on “real” guests — scientists, writers, theorists, historians and, of course, military veterans. Great news that he’s involving himself with the National Geographic. Look forward to it!!

  10. mememine69 says:

    Get ahead of the curve, it’s over;
    Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians taxing the air we breathe to make the weather nicer but colder. Only 34 more years of debate and denial is certain and unstoppable now.

    *Is this how you want your kids remembering you?*

    A CO2 Armageddon that for 34 years science couldn’t say was PROVEN, was just anything anyone wanted it to be, except sustainable in “belief”.

  11. eqquesz says:

    Mr. Dave I am impressed; unlike the Mook/snooze replacement that is savagely boring people with his CBS late night program. But, I am getting good sleep

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