Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Why I should take over for Letterman

There is lots of speculation as to who will replace David Letterman. Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson, Ellen, Chelsea Handler (dear God),Louis CK, Neil Patrick Harris, and even Sarah Palin.

So if Sarah Palin’s name is mentioned with a straight face then I can throw my hat in the ring too. As long as it doesn’t interfere too much with my blogging or watching baseball, I’d like to take over the LATE SHOW.

I hear the money is great. And I could use this national platform to force the LA police department to reopen the Natalie Wood case.

I’d have to lie about my age though. Say I’m 30. I could pass as long as they stopped airing the show in HD.

I’ve never hosted a TV talk show and I was a writer for THE SIMPSONS, so I have the same qualifications as Conan.

I’ve never done stand up comedy, so Sarah Palin is one up on me there, but hey, who says I have to do a monologue anyway? I could read excerpts from my very funny book, MUST KILL TV (available on Kindle now for the absurdly low price of $2.99 and paperback too!) each night.

Singing and dancing might be a problem. I can't do either.  But talk show hosts who resort to that are only showing how desperate they are for attention. Whenever I see Jimmy Fallon do a spot-on impersonation, or an intricate dance number I can’t helping thinking “how very sad that he has to stoop this low.” So not having any real talent is, in this case, a plus, which is great for me.

As for a band, I noticed on Fallon’s premiere he had U2 but never used them again. What an oversight! I would just have U2 as my house band. Sorry, Paul. Time marches on.

For a co-host, and Les Moonves, none of the other candidates have suggested this – I’d go with Julie Chen.

Interviewing is certainly my strong suit. I’ve hosted many radio talk shows and as a baseball announcer I’ve conducted literally thousands of player interviews. “Emma Watson, great to have you. I hear you’re in a new movie and your hamstring is tight.”

As for guests, let’s shake it up. Why don’t I see more cartoon characters on the couch? Why no accordion players? No porn stars who would do anything for the exposure?

I would keep most of Dave’s staff. They’re terrific. But I’d want the show to move back to Los Angeles. Yes, it might be tough for two hundred families to relocate 3,000 miles but I wouldn’t be inconvenienced. And it’s that kind of thinking that sends the message to CBS that this guy has the right temperament to host a national show.

For the set I want to do something radically different. I’m going to put the desk and the couch on the right side of the stage, not the left like all those other losers. And in tribute to Dave, I’ll keep his backdrop. Yes, it might be confusing to have a New York backdrop for a show set in Los Angeles but that’s the kind of zany edgy thing I plan on doing.

I’m telling ya, I’d be perfect. I’m new, I’m fresh, my daughter lives close to CBS so I can just park on the street. And between my years in television and movies I can get any guest I want, except maybe Robert Wagner.

I’m planning the rally now. We’ll let you know where and when. But you can start by making placards now. Thanks. See ya on CBS.

NOTE:  David Isaacs and I will be on Stu Shostak's internet interview show today from 4-6 PDT/7-9 EDT.  We'll be talking about each others careers.  And it's good practice for me for when I take over for Letterman.  


Carol said...

Not to deny you'd be the perfect host, Ken, but I think I'd have to cast my vote for Neil Patrick Harris. I'd even start watching that show if NPH hosted it. Well, the clips on You Tube, at least.

I don't stay up that late.

John said...

Putting the band of the left side of the stage seemed to be the de facto way for a while to demonstrate the show was different from The Tonight Show, which was old-school with the band over on the right. I suggest you put the desk and sofa in the middle of the stage, with the band on both sides and have the guests come up from the audience like they're on "The Price Is Right" Nobody's tried that layout yet.

Chris said...

I do not understand why anybody still watches these type of shows. Just the thought of it bores me. Years ago, they might have been the only place to ogle some celebs, hear some corny jokes, and enjoy (or not) comedians and musical acts.

Now, with constantly improving technology, most of us carry mobile devices that give us all sorts of ways to see celebs, corny jokes, comedians, and music. I just don't get the appeal of sitting around at midnight watching some canned, dull nonsense when there is nearly unlimited 24-7 access to this same type of stuff and these same type of guests all over the internet.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Leno and Letterman were the funniest comedians in the world before they got their programs, then they were mangled by the Network Money Machine. Do you really want to be That Guy? OK, take the job and a year's salary, then quit and buy a Hawaiian island.

Anonymous said...

You don't have to worry about the HD, Ken. Just have them use a lens that softens the look (like Diane Sawyer does on ABC News).

I hope Craig Ferguson doesn't take over that time spot. Sometimes his shtick gets a little old, but he wouldn't have the freedom at the earlier time that he does now. And he often doesn't talk about whatever new product the guests have out. Plus, he actually has some interesting people--authors, etc.--that you never see on other shows, and they sometimes have really interesting discussions.

Unknown said...

You're a shoo-in, Ken. Here are some off-the-top-of-my-head ideas that might make the show stand out.

Instead of Dave's Top Ten list, make it zanier and more personal. How 'bout Ken's Top Elevine (see what I did there?)

No monologue, just let each program begin with 4 minutes of empty stage. It builds excitement. Plus it gives viewers a chance to floss, brush their teeth, and get into their jammies without missing anything.

No band. Bring in a different street musician each show and let 'em pass the hat. It saves money, and it'd be like watching a mini American Idol each night without having to put up with Seacrest or J-Lo or hearing "dawg" a gazillion times.

I like the New York backdrop in LA thing, but what about a moonscape? People would think you’re broadcasting from the lunar surface! Far out (literally) or what? And you can probably pick up the one they used for staging the moon landing for really cheap.

Craig Ferguson throws candy into the audience. If you did the show from Denver or Seattle, you could throw doobies or hash brownies. Think of the sponsors that would attract. You could even rebrand the show's title and license it out for huge $$. Tostitos presents the Late Show with Ken Levine. Munchy-licious.

Don't worry about the age thing. Be yourself. Johnny Knoxville made himself look older for Bad Grandpa and made a killing. There's gold in them there wrinkles, Ken. Old is the new young.

And for your first guest, why not get that guy who wrote "Must Kill TV"?! :-)

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip to give you a step up, Ken: Tell them you'll go with a... wait for it... Top ELEVEN list. Yes, in true Spinal Tap tradition, that's one better than a mere Top Ten list.

Artie in Sin City said...

I find Fallon sophomoric and flat...Myers...forget it...Kimmel is just plain boring...For me the sole late night figure has been Craig Ferguson...but he tends to appeal to only a select group of people...those with some brains...Looks like he is out of the running for the Letterman gig, so guess I have to give to you...Yea, that's the late night ticket...

PNW Corey said...

Great satire! The Robert Wagner line made my laugh. Nice quick inside joke....

Howard Hoffman said...

So the bottom line is you want to do the freakin' Joe Franklin Show on CBS. BRILLIANT!

Cap'n Bob said...

Letterman is on the right side of the stage. Once, Carson's set was switched to the right. It was awkward and confusing and they moved it back to the left after only a few days.

As for you replacing Letterman, why not? You're as viable a candidate as any of the ones mentioned so far, except maybe Colbert.

One name I haven't heard mentioned is Dennis Miller.

BigTed said...

At last, some diversity in late night! (Seriously, though -- I don't think there's ever been a Jewish late-night talk show host on one of the big three networks.)

Anonymous said...

How about just reruns of the Larry Sanders Show? Now, that was funny!

Johnny Walker said...

I think you'd probably do a great job, to be honest. Why don't you have a podcast, or regular radio show, already?

vicernie said...

the best late night talk show was Fernwood Tonight hosted by Martin Mull with Fred Willard as his side-man.

Gary Theroux said...

Having a cartoon character as a guest may not be such a hot idea as Sonny Bono did precisely that in the first episode of his own series after he and Cher split and his show tanked almost immediately. Of course, you might have better luck if you book the right cartoon guest -- like maybe Bullwinkle or Jessica Rabbit (I always get those two confused). As for your non comedy writing skills, just remember Jack Paar -- who specialized in having no discernable talent other than as a quirky personality, a skilled interviewer and as a master of sit-down (not stand-up) monologues. You can do all that!

gottacook said...

BigTed: There was Joey Bishop.

I loved Fernwood 2-Night and its successor America 2-Night (summers of 1977 and '78 respectively), and the 1980s Letterman show often reminded me of it. I was also a fan of Conan's show up until Andy Richter left (1993-2000) and think he might have done better at 11:35 p.m. if Andy had returned in his old capacity - it was a big mistake to make him the announcer. I don't watch any of them anymore, although there are many of those 1980s and '90s episodes I'd happily see again sometime.

Ben K. said...

Ken, what do you think of NBC's "Comedy Playground" contest, in which they're encouraging anyone to submit ideas for new shows? Could it be a good way for unknown writers to get their careers going? Or is it likely (as Gawker is suggesting) to end up with any good ideas becoming the property of NBC, without the writers necessarily getting any benefit or credit?

Given the fact that few ideas are actually original anyway (and really original ideas are unlikely to be made into a network series), would it be worth the effort and the risk?

Jimminy Piersall said...

I'll vote for you, but Julie Chen's already got a talk show, she's far better looking than you and all other males - exceedingly far - and I'm guessing that with her influence, that's her gig if she wants it. Then you can go host that dippy reality show she does, if it's still on.

But on a serious note, maybe a FRIDAY question: I'm watching the MLB free game of the day which unfortunately, is CWS @ Colo. Unfortunate cuz the only feed for this one is Chicago's which means, Lord help me - The Hawk. Now, I don't mind an announcer letting you know once in a while that he's for the home team. But the Hawk is so blatantly expressive about his team that it's nauseating. I know they're supposed to be unbiased, but those days are long gone. We know where their checks come from so it's realistic to expect an occasional homerism. As you're an old school guy (as is the Hawk), what's your feelings about his style and others who don't go by the old school dogma? (I just turn the sound off and watch the game. Don't turn the sound back on unless I'm in need of an explanation on a call/play that just took place.)

Calvert DeCoolidge said...

Based on the Natalie Wood/Robert Wagner remarks, I'm guessing you will NOT be reviving Letterman's comedy bit "Will It Float?"

Anonymous said...

Let's see...

Colbert... too old and weird looking. He's aged a good five years in the last 12 months. Hope it's not cancer. In any case, audiences won't tune into the unhealthy. Plus who the hell is he? All we know is the character he plays, supported by a small army of writers. It's like advocating for Leonard Nimoy for the tonight show because you liked Spock. Stupid.

Dookie Houser... too broadway and gay. Plus his giant head makes me uncomfortable. There. I said it. I understand why they cast him as Dookie. The casting directer must have said, "hey! the kid has a huge head. That'll help the audience believe he's smart enough to be a 15 year old surgeon!" Seriously though, now he looks like he should be a doorman on the island of dr. maureu. No giant heads!

Chelsea... why would people tune in to see a nightly spot-on imitation of their mean shit-spitting warthog ex-wife?

Craig Ferguson... best interviewer ever. Extremely fast, very witty. But he's Scottish. They're mean. Don't let 'em get drunk. Then they're even worse. His milk won't keep. He'd probably wind up worse than old Letterman. I could see him eventually punching out his horse, and pissing on his cohost skeleton guy.

Louis CK... too low-brow. Even he knows it. Lower brow than Jimmy Kimmel, and that's saying something. You don't want a talk show host where some of the guests are afraid to shake his hand because they KNOW where it's been an hour before.

Ellen... personally, I think she's a psychopath. Every time I watch her, I feel like she's captaining a put-on personality. She's one dark chick. Not who I want to see at that hour.

Gary Shandling... I'd hire him just because he wouldn't want to do it, and if coerced, would make up a show format intended to annoy people while entertaining himself and his few friends.

That's my choice.

Shandling to win!

Casting Dude

Jon J said...

Colbert it is.

Phillip B said...

Colbert is a good choice. It will be interesting to see how his relationship with Letterman develops over the next few months - and how the Stewart/Colbert relationship is resolved.

Alan C said...

The comment about cartoon characters reminded me that Space Ghost had a talk show. Maybe CBS should have tapped him.

I do wonder if Colbert can keep the schtick up in a longer format or if he'll do it more as a straight talk show, as himself. And if as himself, will people watch?

Anonymous said...

"I do wonder if Colbert can keep the schtick up in a longer format or if he'll do it more as a straight talk show, as himself. And if as himself, will people watch?"

The bigger question is will middle america accept a hard left-wing political pundit as a talk show host? That's never been done before.

I think this insane decision is being made by people whose politics are way to the left, and like many left-wing fantasies, they have a way of coming back to bite you in the ass.

btw, I wouldn't want to see Bill O'Reilly hosting the tonight show either.

America has really lost it's way.

D. McEwan said...

"I said... [Two columns back]
I am amused by those saying "It will be Stephen Colbert to replace Dave. Fait Accompli."

[And then I elaborated on it]"

Well, I was 100% wrong. Second time it's ever happened. Third time if you count the entire 1980s.

Well, If nothing else, I'll man up and admit it when I'm totally wrong. I was totally wrong.

This is why I NEVER make bets or gamble with money. I'm no damn good at it.

But I still say Gay Marriage will never be lega--- What? Oh never mind. I'm gonna go watch a movie.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Colbert'll be fine. Given the speed of the announcement, and reports that Colbert intentionally aligned his contract expirations with Letterman's, I have the feeling this decision was known to Letterman, Colbert, and CBS for a while now.

However, Ken, don't let this kill your dreams. Look at what Kevin Pollak does without a network contract. You an do better than that; you're actually funny. And you can either book Darlene Love every Christmas or just play the records. Maybe Roseanne will be a guest. That'd be fun, for somebody.

By the way, I've been reading MAD AS HELL. Thanks for the sharing that from your vacation reading list; I'm enjoying it.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Neil Patrick Harris is too gay? So does that mean there's just the right amount of gay?

Anonymous, may we introduce you to Mario Cantone?

Anonymous said...

this decision was known for a while. Bill Simmons reported it as fact a few days earlier.