Harry Connick Jr.’s path to hosting his own daytime talk show began with his many visits to other talk shows – appearances which broadened his career from jazz musician to actor and TV personality.
No program was more important to Connick’s blossoming than “The Late Show with David Letterman,” where he guested 21 times from 1993 to 2014. Now that Connick is about to make his debut as the host of “Harry,” the syndicated talker bowing Sept. 12, no one is happier for him than Letterman.
“He’s one of these guys I dislike intensely,” Letterman told Variety. “I can’t do more than sit there and make fun of people. He can play the piano. He can sing. He’s very funny. I can’t do more than one thing at a time and he can do all of those things. It’s just not fair.”
“Harry,” which will air mostly in afternoon time slots in major markets, promises to be an eclectic mix of music, comedy, taped field pieces and Connick interacting with everyday people. Former “Late Show” head writers Eric and Justin Stangel developed the show with Connick and are exec producing. The pair’s 17 years on “Late Show” will serve Connick well in his effort to ensure that “Harry” is anything but a cookie-cutter talk show.
“Harry’s in good hands,” Letterman said of the Stangel brothers. “Certainly they deserve a great deal of credit for why we were able to stay on the air as long as we did.”
Connick’s ability to spin a good yarn and be fast on his feet in reacting to guests is the foundation of what any host needs, plus his musical skills are off the charts. The Stangels will build the comedic infrastructure for him to thrive, Letterman predicted.
“Whatever they have planned for Harry, they’ll end up complementing each other very well,” Letterman said. “I don’t see how this can’t be a pretty big success.”
Connick’s musical skills are also formidable – the talent that first brought him to Letterman’s attention back in the “Late Night” era. “The amount of music you get from him in one booking, it’s just incredible,” he said. (Letterman volunteered that one thing he really misses from “Late Show” is hearing live music every night.)
Letterman predicted that Connick’s show could be a fit in any time slot. But he’s intrigued to see how “Harry” plays in daytime.
“It coincides nicely for me because I don’t have a job now – I’ll be able to stay home and watch,” Letterman said.
Might Letterman be willing to turn the tables and be a guest on “Harry”? After a pause, Letterman said: “I’m no longer in show business…But yes, I would love to be a guest on Harry’s show, if he were to invite me.”