Oprah played somewhat of a mediator to Jay Leno & David Letterman last night as she shared the couch with the two battling late night hosts.
Under a shroud of secrecy, the three met last Tuesday to shoot the spot in New York at the Ed Sullivan Theater, where Letterman tapes his show. Leno arrived incognito, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, glasses and faux mustache and Oprah flew in for a day to shoot the spot.
Video below + find out how it all came about:
According to staff members of the “Late Show with David Letterman” who were on the scene that day, it all happened because Letterman had an idea he thought would be truly funny: a Super Bowl ad featuring the dueling late night hosts sharing space sitting with Ms. Winfrey in the middle as though at a Super Bowl party.
Letterman & Leno have been having a war of words so to speak after the departure of Conan O’Brien from the “Tonight” show and Leno’s impending return to the show, where he will once again go head to head with Mr. Letterman.
Letterman had the idea to invite Leno to participate, playing off a similar ad he put together with Oprah back in 2007.
“Dave wrote the bit himself,” executive producer Rob Burnett said. “He just thought: it’s the Super Bowl, you’re supposed to entertain people.”
Steps were taken to contact Oprah, who agreed immediately, then Leno. Burnett said he spoke with Leno’s executive producer, Debbie Vickers and “She asked if this was for real and then she laughed for about 10 minutes,”
Mr. Leno quickly agreed, but the idea had to be passed by the top NBC executives, including the chief executive, Jeff Zucker. Permission was granted.
Mr. Leno was able to get Tuesday free – NBC had rearranged its schedule to pre-empt his 10 p.m. show that night – and took the NBC corporate jet, Mr. Burnett said. There seemed little chance though that Mr. Leno could sneak into Mr. Letterman’s theater unseen, so the idea was hatched to try to sneak him in during a live taping – in disguise.
Both guests turned up while Mr. Letterman was on stage doing his show. They were kept in a secret green room until the show was over and the theater was cleared. Then Mr. Leno and Ms. Winfrey went up to the theater balcony where a living room set was fashioned with a faux TV and a couch.
Mr. Letterman arrived a short time later. The two late-night rivals greeted each other warmly, Mr. Burnett said. “It was very friendly, very professional, totally cordial,” he said. “You could tell these were two guys who have known each other for a long time.”
The idea Mr. Letterman came up with was for him to be first seen alone, complaining about being at the worst Super Bowl party ever – then to be seen in a two-shot with Ms. Winfrey as he had been in 2007, with her telling him to be nice. And then Mr. Leno would be revealed at the other end of the couch saying that Mr. Letterman was only complaining because he was there.
Mr. Letterman followed doing a mock-Jay voice. The entire spot was shot quickly and efficiently, Mr. Burnett said. “I’d say it took no more that 20 or 30 minutes,” he said.
“I think everybody wanted to do it just because they all knew it would get attention and they all just wanted to do something funny.”
After the taping was completed, Mr. Letterman thanked his guests and they said a cordial goodbye, Mr. Burnett said. The two stars slipped back out into the Manhattan night, Mr. Leno back in his faux mustache.
“This wasn’t done to help Dave or to help Jay,” Mr. Burnett said, “though I think it does help both of them. It was just done because Dave thought it would be funny and would entertain people. Nothing went beyond that.” (Source)
What would have really set tongues wagging would have been Conan’s participation in the group! But since it was a promotional spot for Dave’s show, I guess Leno being on the couch is just as catty. They kept it cute, so I’ll give it a B+.
What was your favortie Super Bowl commercial this year?