A week after Jay Leno registered boffo ratings for his Johnny Carson tribute, David Letterman is honoring the former king of latenight.
Letterman booked former Carson bandleader Doc Severinson, Carson’s executive producer Peter Lassally and former “The Tonight Show” band members Ed Shaughnessy and Tommy Newsom for his Monday night show, his first new show since Carson’s death.
NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” aired its Carson tribute, with guests Ed McMahon, Bob Newhart and Don Rickles, on Jan. 24, the day after Carson died.
That show delivered Leno’s fourth-best rating, behind the “Cheers” finale in 1993, Leno’s debut as host in 1992 and the night of the “Seinfeld” finale in 1998.
Just days before Carson’s death, Lassally told an audience of television critics that Carson seemed to be doing well despite his battle with emphysema. Lassally said Carson still came up with at least five jokes from the morning papers; he’d occasionally call them in to Letterman and would get a kick out of seeing them on “Late Night.”