David Letterman seems like a dude who would be fun to suck down a few beers and smoke a cigar with. He’s seems like a real sharp-witted dude who would be a dream to work for. Welp, in a new biography by Jason Zinoman titled “Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night,” former colleagues of Letterman paint a very different picture of the retired late night host.
The biography portrays Letterman as self-loathing and self-critical, whose “ferocious fear of failure” eventually caused the comic to project this anger toward everyone on the show.
“He was never truly comfortable unless he was seething with unhappiness at something,” one longtime writer told author Jason Zinoman in “Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night.” [h/t NY Daily News]
A veteran staffer who served under Letterman through both his late-night shows revealed that getting close to Letterman was often a precarious decision–“There comes a moment when he turns on you,” the staffer said.
Tim Long, one of Letterman’s many head writers over the years, got so unhinged by his boss’s rejection and dark moods that he began chewing Coke cans and swallowing the pieces of tin.
Even after CBS offered Letterman a then-record $16 million annual salary, the comedian was still unhappy.
“He always complained from the very beginning,” recalled one producer.
“It got worse when he went to CBS,” recalled Shaffer. “Any flaw, minor flaw, he exaggerated. He was most uncomfortable at No. 1.”
The biography claims that at the height of his success, Letterman transformed his persona and became, what one writer called “a pervy old man at times.” He began booking “leggy supermodels” frequently and increasingly played the role of “horny creep.”
Comic Rich Hall, a writer for Letterman’s NBC show, was floored by the host’s new, abrasive nature when he appeared as a guest. Hall followed actress Andie MacDowell, who had just flopped in her segment. Before the cameras came on, Letterman leaned over and snarled, “How’d you like to be married to that cunt?”
The Last Giant of Late Night by Jason Zinoman is published on April 11. Letterman has yet to comment.
[h/t NY Daily News]