Just one entry is all that's needed this week, and without question, it was a doozy.
On Monday night, during his opening comments, David Letterman apologized to his audience, saying that he was unsure whether or not he should have returned to the air so soon after the World Trade Center tragedy.
He was nervous. He was doubtful. He couldn't foresee that night's broadcast as something even worth watching.
And then Dan Rather came out.
As the rock-solid news anchor slowly began to unravel--crying, voice shaky, telling the crowd how sorry he was for his behavior, much like Letterman had earlier--we knew we were watching a TV moment like no other. Actually, it was more important than it appeared. It was more than just rare--it was mutual.
Just two TV cameras captured the most significant moment in the eight-year history of CBS' The Late Show with David Letterman. Sure, Leno has his defining moment, grilling actor Hugh Grant following his infamous arrest, but now Dave has his. And Dave's is much more profound. Memorable. Enduring.
You can carry modern late-night TV's most remarkable moments in one hand. Johnny's tearful farewell. Arsenio's jam session with Clinton. The cancellation of The Magic Hour.
Now, add one more: Dan Rather publicly displaying for the first time what viewers had been feeling for days--except here was a tortured man apologizing for being human.
Just in time for the February ratings sweeps -- and just one month after undergoing quintuple bypass heart surgery -- David Lettermanmay be back on the late shift sooner than expected.
The CBS late-night host reportedly worked at his "Late Show" offices in New York for a few hours Monday, reports today said. The date being most bandied about for the comic's possible return is Feb. 14 -- an occurrence that would be sure to give the network a really big ratings Valentine.
Calls to publicists at the "Late Show" offices in New York were not immediately returned.
The Los Angeles Times quotes an unnamed source with the show as saying that Letterman's post-surgery rebound is proceeding "so well and so quickly, we're not canceling the week of the 14th." However, the same source added that a return date has not been set in stone. While Dave's been away, CBS has been airing "viewer's choice" reruns of the show.
Letterman, 52, underwent a successful bypass procedure Jan. 14 to clear a major artery blockage. The operation came just two days after a high-rated appearance on his show by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and it came just one day after Letterman revealed to guest Regis Philbin that he was due for a heart checkup.
His show has been in repeats since Jan. 17. Letterman was released from a New York hospital Jan. 19. Initial reports said the host would be out for at least 10 weeks.
But just two weeks ago, "Late Show" executive producer Robert Burnett predicted that Letterman, a workaholic who previously spent 12 hours a day at the office and never missed a show due to illness, ``will be back faster than people think.''
``He's recovering quickly, and he's doing great,'' Burnett said at the time. ``It will be weeks as opposed to months.''
Recently, Letterman's buddy and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" host Regis Philbin publicly offered to fill in for Dave during the star's absence. Burnett said several other celebrities had also offered to guest-host the show. Jerry Seinfeld was rumored to be among the candidates.