David Letterman: Mellowing nicely with age and experience

DaveoprahFinally caught up with the David Letterman interview on Monday’s season opener of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

For Letterman-lovers it was a treat, well worth seeking out (I botched getting it in its premiere but was saved by a dub sent over by the good folks at CBS Paramount Domestic TV), if only to see him acting like a proud papa showing off adorable pics of his tow-headed 4-year-old, Harry. (Pic at left is from a “Late Show” promo spot Oprah and Dave did for CBS’ Super Bowl  telecast in February.) Also happy to see that video from the Sept. 7 dedication ceremony of the David Letterman Communication and Media Building at Ball State U. in Muncie, Ind., is starting to pop up on YouTube.

Letterman was clearly in good spirits that day, talking about how much his late father, Harry, would have been proud of him for the school’s brick-and-mortar tribute. By gum, Dave’s gonna lose his reputation for being an interview-phobic recluse if he keeps up this nice-guy-in-public routine. Maybe it’s just natural maturity (a hopeful sign that TV personalities can in fact mature gracefully). As Oprah informed him: “60 is the new 40.”

In reality, I think Letterman’s doing a burst of PR for good causes — he owed it to Oprah for her having come on his show two years ago, and he owed to the mom and dad who put him through Ball State — and he’ll soon go back to keeping firmly out of the spotlight. He told Oprah that his idea of “kicking back” (her phrase) is spending time on a horse at his spread in Montana, not strolling red carpets. Anyway, here’s the best quality vid I could find of Letterman’s nine-minute address, complete with Top Ten list.

And for Letterman fans of the truly, madly, deeply variety, there’s also vid clips on YouTube of a Q&A that Letterman and his “Late Show” exec producer Barbara Gaines and another “Late Show” staffer I can’t identify (sounds like they’re calling him “Bill”) did with students on campus, presumably the same day as the dedication. Vid quality is pretty weak, so you’ll have to be a devotee to get through it but IMHO it’s worth it.

When asked about his fave moments on the show, he cites two that indicate he’s not the same self-centered, insanely competitive neurotic of old. Dave’s personal Top Two: The night he came back on air after his January 2000 quintuple heart bypass surgery, and the night in November 2003 after his son was born. Me thinks Dave’s mentor and idol, Johnny Carson, would be proud of his protege.

The Q&A is broken up into three roughly 10-minute vids. Here’s a link to Part 1 …. and Part 2 … and Part 3.

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