Oprah Winfrey has finally agreed to appear on David Letterman's CBS late-night show, on Dec. 1.
This is sure to bring an enormous audience to Letterman, who has been falling further behind Jay Leno's show on NBC, despite better ratings for CBS at 10 p.m. this season.
The queen of daytime appeared on Letterman's NBC show twice (he moved to CBS in 1993), but has refused to do so again because, she has said, she did not like being the butt of his jokes.
In 2003 he invited her to do a "Super Bowl of Love" on his "Late Show." She demurred and instead invited him to come on her syndicated show. But Letterman, who's no dummy, realized that if they kissed and made up on her show it would only goose her show's ratings, not his, and he declined her invitation, offering the lame explanation that if he appeared on her show he was sure to "break down and sob like a little girl."
Just last month Oprah and Uma Thurman chatted on Oprah's show about the horror of having their names forever linked to Letterman's infamous Academy Awards "Oprah, Uma" opening gag bellyflop:
Oprah to Uma: "You could feel that David is going to say something . . . . I was, like, 'God, please, please, please don't mention my name. Please, please, please.' "
(Then, remembering that Uma was supposed to be the guest): "You remember that night, don't you?"
Uma to Oprah: "How could I forget . . ."
But Dec. 1 is opening night for Oprah Winfrey Presents "The Color Purple" on Broadway -- right across the street from the old Ed Sullivan theater, where Letterman tapes his show. (Too bad for him it falls one night outside the November ratings derby.)
"What a big night that is going to be," Letterman gushed to his studio audience during yesterday's taping, a transcript of which was rushed to the media by CBS. "Not only for us, not only for Oprah, but for Broadway.
"You have the big 'Color Purple' Broadway opening, and then, right across the street here in this theater, you have Oprah appearing here. I mean, that's what Broadway is all about -- it's a street of dreams."
Aren't people who use people the luckiest people in the world?
Having placed a woman in the Oval Office on ABC, Rod Lurie is hard at work on Part 2 of his Never Gonna Happen political saga: a drama series about a teenage boy elected mayor of a medium-size town.
And, despite the fact that Lurie's departure from "Commander in Chief" was so abrupt, or maybe because of it, ABC is the network for which he's developing the series, called "Triumph." When Lurie left "CiC," he was signed to a deal with Touchstone Television, which, like ABC, is owned by Disney and which produces "CiC."
Show-running on "CiC" was taken over by Steven Bochco, with whom Touchstone also has a big overhead deal.
One possible trouble point: An 18-year-old high school student named Chris Seeley recently was elected mayor of a town. But Linesville, Pa. -- well known in bird circles as the place where ducks can walk on the backs of carp that teem near the spillway at Pymatuning Reservoir, according to news reports -- had a population of just 1,138 in 2004, the Census Bureau estimates.
Lurie, presumably, is working with a larger canvas, where things like that just don't happen. Teen boys becoming mayor -- not ducks walking on the back of carp.
Besides, Lurie told trade paper Variety, he had been "noodling" with the boy-politician thing long before Seeley got himself elected.
And, as with "Commander in Chief," Lurie said he does not plan to get bogged town in political minutiae with the new series.
The idea, he explained, is that the show be about a boy in a man's world.
You know, like "Doogie Howser, M.D."
Martin Bashir will not be allowed to wear black leather pants on "New Nightline" when he debuts as one of the "Nightline Three" on Nov. 28.
At least, we don't think so.
"Nightline" executive producer James Goldston was asked about that yesterday during a phone news conference with The Reporters Who Cover Television about the new "Nightline." Ted Koppel is bowing out tonight after more than two decades as show anchor.
It was one of the more painful phone news conferences ever attended by TRWCT.
Perhaps that's because the reporters weren't sure what to ask, having not seen any footage of the new "Nightline" -- and even the best television shows are difficult to explain in words to people who have not seen any footage:
Honest, Les, it'll be great! Jennifer Love Hewitt, talking to dead people -- wearing clingy men's sleeveless undershirts -- heaving bosoms, lots of cleavage. You slap it on Friday, it'll still do a 14 share -- it's a slam dunk!
Where were we? Oh yes, "Nightline." Some of the reporters seemed a bit skeptical that Bashir -- best known in this country for sucking up to and then demolishing Michael Jackson in that controversial British documentary "Living With Michael Jackson," which was purchased by ABC News and scored a gigantic 27 million viewers in the February 2003 sweeps -- had the whole Koppel statesmanlike thing going on.
Goldston, who coincidentally oversaw the making of that documentary when he was a producer working in the United Kingdom, naturally took umbrage, noting that Bashir also has done documentaries on race and crime, for instance, and won numerous awards for his work.
One reporter, who wasn't buying it, said she was going to take a "wild stab" and guess that no correspondent on "Nightline" had ever worn black leather pants like Bashir has on the air.
Goldston also took issue with that, saying he didn't think he'd ever seen Bashir in black leather pants, and that his response to the question "will have to be a no comment," but then added that there won't be any change in the dress code on "Nightline."
Moving on to more pressing matters, one reporter asked Goldston what was the difference between TV journalism in the United States and in Britain.
"There are many differences, for obvious reasons," he replied. "Because there's such a vibrant national press in Britain, much of the discourse . . . is led by the newspapers. Here the reverse is true. Some of you might disagree. But in large measure, television is the cultural agenda of America. It's a very profound difference," which, he said, "puts more pressure on anyone working in television for sure."
Guess how that went over.