In honor of David Letterman's 20 year reign as late night talk show host on The Late Show with David Letterman, we're looking back at some of his most memorable interviews. Below are five of the most entertaining, which remind us why he's remained a constant presence in our lives, and why we're going to miss him when he goes. Nobody else can play caustic and abrasive as charmingly as Dave.
5. Joaquin Phoenix, 2009
At the time of this debacle, none of us knew that Phoenix was commenting on the absurdity of stardom with his surreal appearance on Letterman in 2009. We all just thought he was losing his mind. Despite it being a joke, the interview caused a sensation and Letterman's reaction is nothing short of hilarious.
4. Drew Barrymore, 1995
For Letterman's birthday present, actress Drew Barrymore flashed him in front of the live audience. There's debate about whether or not this moment was spontaneous or scripted, but it hardly matters. So often these celebrity interviews are boring and monotonous, and Barrymore spiced it up with a moment we're never going to forget.
3. Madonna, 1994
In 1994, the Queen of Pop caused controversy as usual when she cursed and talked about sex. At the time, half of the audience was annoyed with Madonna and the other half admired her courage to defy the rules. Now we're all grateful for this rare moment of off-kilter insanity.
2. Harmony Korine, 1995
Provocateur Harmony Korine deliberately annoyed Letterman in this uncomfortable interview that reminded viewers of the importance of knowing something about a guest before inviting them on the program. What else is to be expected from the guy who made Gummo?
1. Kristen Stewart, 2008
Kristen Stewart is an awkward celebrity in general, and her interactions with Letterman during this interview are painful to watch. You can tell she doesn't want to be there, and Letterman doesn't make it easier by asking her ridiculous questions and then mocking her answers in order to elicit a laugh from the audience. This is late night television at its finest.
CBS Broadcasting Inc.
John Reese (Jim Caviezel) was taking a trip to get away since he was still disconsolate at the death of Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson), but apparently the Machine had other plans. First it oversold his original flight to Istanbul and then opened up a seat in first class on another flight. Reese then got bumped from his seat to another due to a honeymooning couple wanting to sit together. One with someone being monitored by two marshals, one of whom was immediately knocked out in the lavatory after going to the bathroom - a situation that Reese discovered after the machine called a cell phone that he'd taken from a jerk who was talking too loudly on it and ignoring warnings to turn it off as the plane was taking off. He called to ream out Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), who said he hadn't sent him a number.
Reese wanted no part of it and tried to warn the other marshal, who told him to vamoose. Seconds after the marshal said that, he collapsed and someone tried to stab the asset with a needle. The would-be assassin's head then met Reese's knee. It was ascertained the marshals had busted an online drug market and the person being transported, named Owen Matthews, was a witness. The person who tried to kill Matthews was a member of the drug cartel with its leader known for being absolutely ruthless.
To make matters worse, Matthews, who resembled a typical computer nerd, and looked about as threatening as a fruit fly, had a mouth on him. Reese had to resort to a bit of electroshock with Matthews' stun belt to get him to get a bit more in line.
Sensing a bad situation, Finch had to send Samantha Shaw (Sarah Shahi) to see her former employers, The Activity - the people who wanted her dead before - to see why this person was of interest.
On the plane, the situation got worse for Reese. The honeymooning couple turned out to be assassins - Mossad agents. They tried to kill Matthews, but Reese intervened again while all the while everyone on the plane was distracted by an airline disaster movie. One of them stabbed Reese in the shoulder with a fork. "I guess the honeymoon is over," Reese quipped.
After threatening to disembowel one of the members, the one who booked all the flights for the agents, Shaw found out that there was an Activity agent - the one who replaced her - on the plane. Forwarned, Reese saw him and dispatched him, but Matthews fled in the confusion. Which, considering he was on a plane and trapped inside for several more hours, NOT A GOOD IDEA.
Reese found Matthews in a lavatory, knocked him out and moved him into the cargo hold, with assistance from a pretty flight attendant he had befriended earlier. On the ground, Shaw tracked down Hersh (Boris McGiver) - who had survived that blast from Vigilance and looked worse for the wear becaise of it - at a restaurant and drugged him. He told her that I.S.A. had an interest in the situation. In a bit of a comedic situation, Hersh then passed out at the table while Shaw walked away. It turned out that Matthews was The Sphinx, a notorious underworld figure. After Reese had to dispatch of the I.S.A agent again, he discovered that there there was another cartel assassin on board, this one disguised as a flight attendant and he was going to crash the plane to kill Matthews ... and everyone else on board.
The assassin shot the pilot, disabled the co-pilot and began putting the plane into a descent, intending to crash it on the tarmac in Rome. The flight attendant was unable to override the door's locks, but Reese, taking a page from United 93, grabbed a food cart and rammed it into the door, smashing it open. Inside, he began fighting the assassin, while no one was controlling the plane. Everyone was doomed.
Ah, but on the ground, Finch was able to hack into the airline's controls and by using the controls from a flight simulator joystick, was able to safely land the plane. Of course, all the passengers were blissfully unaware that they had come thisclose to dying. After all the passengers exited, Reese went to the baggage area and grabbed a large travel crate. Matthews was inside and Reese sent him off to a safe house where Finch would contact him to set him up with a new identity and place to live.
Later, Reese met the flight attendant for a drink in Rome. She gave him her card and told him to call her when he got back in the United States. After she left, he met Finch, who was sitting at a cafe table nearby. Finch had come personally to set up Matthews' new life. There was a bit of awkward conversation, but Finch admitted that he missed Carter terribly too. He also said that he had purposely set up the Machine to always have a human element decide the fate of someone. He offered to have Reese join him at a museum. Reese declined, which made Finch's look crestfallen, but he said that he had wanted to go to a tailor ... so he could be fitted for a new suit. That made Finch's day, since he knew that mean Reese was coming back to work.
Matthews: "Who are you?"Reese: "A concerned frequent flyer."
"You seem like an angry guy. Do you want to talk about that?" -- Matthews to Reese
"I didn't like my boss's boss." - Reese
"What do you need hairspray for? That salt-and-pepper hair is catnip for soccer moms. Go au naturale." -- Matthews*death glare from Reese, who had been looking for a possible weapon*
"I thought you got rid of that walking steroid?" -- Matthews to Reese as the I.S.A. agent bore down on them for the second time.
The episode opened with things looking bleak. Control (Camryn Manheim) and Hersh (Boris McGiver) had the upper hand, with Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), Arthur Claypool (Saul Rubinek) and Samantha Shaw (Sarah Shahi) all under the barrels of guns in a supposed safe room. Shaw was just about to be taken out with two shots when Root (Amy Acker) burst in, wielding dual pistols. After a frantic shoot-out, Hersh wound up shooting Root from behind while Shaw, Finch and Arthur got away. So did Control and Hersh, with Root in their custody.
Finch and Claypool, who was dying from a brain tumor, found a bank deposit box that was supposed to hold the code for Samaritan, Claypool's creation that was similar to the Machine that Finch had created. Problem was, the privacy zealots Vigilance also joined the party and took over the bank while Finch and Claypool were in the vaults below with the bank manager. Finch locked the vault door to keep Vigilance out, but not before the manager got wounded in the leg in a shootout. To make matters worse, Hersh was one of the people leading the SWAT team outside the bank. (I would not have taken the odds on Vigilance were I were a betting man.) Shaw was still hiding in the bank lobby, communicating with Finch.
On the other side of the country, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Lionel Fusco (Kevin Chapman) were in a holding cell, hashing out the meaning of what they were doing. Fusco said he wanted to keep fighting the good fight while Reese saw it as pointless. Fusco gave up in disgust and signaled that he was ready to leave. He did mention that he hadn't heard from Finch and suggested that he might need their help.
After some time, Vigilance ran out of patience and decided to blow the vault, but Shaw rigged another bomb nearby so that an escape route through the sewers would be available. Claypool smashed the code for Samaritan under his foot. They were nearly ready to leave when Vigilance caught up, only to have Fusco and Reese appear to save them. Hersh had some Vigilance pinned down as well, but one of them was holding a grenade and detonated it. Chances are very high that Hersh survived, though, since he could probably live through a nuclear bomb.
Root's situation played out thusly: She was held in a cage by Control and was alternately being given barbituates and uppers to get her to talk. Root kept begging the Machine to help, which caused Control to smirk and keep asking her to tell her where the Machine was. Root scoffed and said that the Machine was too complicated for the likes of her Finally, Control cut an important bone out of Root's head - one that controlled sound from the ear to the brain. But it turned out the Machine had been talking... at a level of sound that Control. who was in her 50s, could not hear but that the younger Root could. It gave her important information, like where Control kept an extra scalpel on her body, an area that Root could reach when Control was performing her 'surgery.' Root freed herself and took control (snort) of Control. She talked to the Machine and it told her to tell Control to leave it alone, telling Control that it was watching her at all times.
Finch sat with Claypool, who was back in a hospital bed, waiting to die. He told Finch that he was losing memories. Finch said that they weren't destroyed and then Root called and told Finch that finding the Samaritan code was her problem. She then had the machine play back memories, happy ones, for Claypool to watch before he passed on.
Reese, who had just rescued Finch, said that he couldn't stay. He felt the Machine had let him down when Joss Carter died and that it didn't really care who lived and died. He left while a bereft Finch could only watch.
Apparently the bank manager had actually been a plant - the real manager was killed just before the three had entered. Unfortunately, that loose end was tied up by the mysterious man who has Finch in his sights. He shot the woman and he now had the Samaritan Code.
The episode also showed flashbacks to Finch's life, including his talking to his increasingly dementia-addled father about machines and his hacking the government. It also showed the genesis of the Harold Finch name: He pressed a bird-watching book into his father's hand as he was fleeing being questioned about the hacking. Hopefully this will end up in something really good.
When you watch a show, there's a good chance you'll see at least one woman who is there solely to be rescued by a man. Person of Interest takes that idea and stomps on it. This past week's episode had not one, not two but three women, heck, even four if you count one of the villains, who could dismantle a man even before he knew what was happening.
First,we have Joss Carter, a police detective who was busted down to patrolwoman due to a inside crime ring within the police department having a grudge against her getting too close to solving what is going on. She's a tough, no-nonsense woman who is a single mother to a child. Taraji P. Henson imbues her with a fierceness but also a soft side underneath that and is capable of being 'girly' if she has to be.
Then there is Zoe Morgan. She plays a 'fixer' of sorts. If someone or a company is in trouble, she comes in and does what she needs to do. Originally she was one of the people that the Machine designated as someone Reese and Finch needed to save, but she proved more than capable of handling herself and has come in on several of their other cases. She and Reese seem to have a no-strings attached sexual relationship. There's definitely chemistry between the actress, Paige Turco, and Jim Caviezel, who plays Reese. It's not like she sits around and waits for him to call, though.
Rounding off the 'good guys' is Samantha Shaw, who is the least feminine out of them (despite being played by the charming Sarah Shahi). She's a former paramilitary officer who tracked down terrorists before she was recruited by Finch and Reese. She's the wild card out of the bunch - an admitted sociopath who can kill people without compunction. In one of the more recent episodes, she had to be coached by Carter and Morgan about expressing her femininity. I believe the phrase, "Smile!" was used more than once.
In the bad guy camp, Amy Acker has been playing an enigmatic hacker who goes by the name Root. She's been a particular thorn in Finch's side since the end of the first season and it looks like she just escaped her confinement again. She always has things under control and even wound up shooting a veteran assassin at the end a recent episode. There was a tinge of regret in her voice when she found out she had to spare the assassin. It's going to be interesting to see Shaw find Root again since the two had a very unique first introduction where Root tortured Shaw (who actually seemed to be enjoying it).
So.. remember the saying, "You wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley"? Well, we can say the same for these women.
John Paul Filo/CBS
We stay up to watch shows like The Tonight Show and Late Night With David Letterman and Conan to see interviews with celebrities and funny sketches. Things don't always go as planned even for the people who meticulously plan and run these shows, often to the chagrin of the hosts and sometimes the guests themselves. The audiences tend to love it. though.
1. Drew Barrymore Striptease on David Letterman (1995)
Who can forget Dave squirming when Barrymore flashed him? I'm sure that the censors watching the show nearly had a heart attack when deciding whether to air this or not.
2. Madonna on Letterman (2008)
Admit it, you didn't look at cigars the same way after her appearance with Letterman. Say what you will, but she is the queen of being able to get people to talk about her.
3. Hugh Grant on Jay Leno (1995)
Usually when people appear on these shows, they expect easy questions. Grant was likely not expecting "What the hell were you thinking?" alluding to his being caught with a prostitute in his car while he was dating Elizabeth Freaking Hurley at the same time.
4. Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman (2009)
Who knew what the hell was going on when the bearded Phoenix conducted one of the most out there interviews ever. It turned out that it was an Andy Kaufman-esque type thing for Phoenix, who was getting ready for a movie role. He came out looking decidedly more normal in another appearance to explain, but I'm sure Letterman's show booker was asking beforehand, "You SURE you're not going to pull something like this again?"
5. Power Goes Out on Craig Ferguson (2009)
Who needs power to run a show? Ferguson just kicked back in the surrounding darkness and cracked jokes with a robotic co-host. Every show should be so laid-back.
6. Letterman Audience-Free Shows During Sandy (2012)
In the same vein as Ferguson, this time Letterman didn't even have an audience during the superstorm. He stood there in an empty studio, save for his sidekick, Paul Shaffer, and the accompying band and did his monologue and regular show. Who says the audience adds anything?
7. Matt Damon Ties Up Jimmy Kimmel (2013)
Late-night TV or the WWE? Damon, in a mock feud with Kimmel, finally snapped, tied up Kimmel and hosted the show himself. Vince McMahon would be proud of that storyline.
8. Jimmy Kimmel Rips Leno Post-Conan O'Brien Firing (2010)
Kimmel was NOT happy when Conan was removed as host of The Tonight Show and he subequently mocked Leno, including doing a show dressed up as him and continued on the offensive until the red-headed comedian locked into his own show on TBS. I was happy to see this, since even the Leno/Letterman rivalry had gotten stale.
9. Sinead O'Connor Tears Pope John Paul II's Picture on SNL (1992)
The Irish singer sure tore herself out of the spotlight after that stunt to protest the Catholic church's view on abortion/contraception: she was also unhappy to be on the same show that the misogynistic Andrew Dice Clay was hosting. It was quite a fall: she had been on top of the world with her hit single, "Nothing Compares 2 U" and after that she faded away until making guest appearances on albums with groups like Massive Attack in the 2000s.
10. Lindsay Lohan on Letterman (2013)
Like Grant, Lohan was surprised by pointed questions about her personal life, which continues to be a train wreck of drugs, alcohol and smoking enough cigarettes to age her 20 years. Letterman can be a good interviewer: he wouldn't last as long as he has without that skill, but he can get testy with people that annoy him. Guess Lohan fit into that category.
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