Good Luck to a Good Guy

Twenty years ago

Twenty years ago

At the risk of appearing like one of those treacly, self-absorbed, sycophantic slobber-pups who nightly regale us in television magazine shows let me wish Jay Leno good luck with the launch of his new 10pm show on NBC tonight.

I met him in the Winter of 1988/89 , a few years before he took over the reigns of The Tonight Show.

This photo was taken backstage at Vancouver’s Orpheum theatre where I was lucky enough to do the on stage introduction.

He was extremely gracious and quickly agreed to a little taped improv for a local magazine show of our own. I also thought he showed a remarkable degree of patience.  Jay Leno is about as genuine an entertainer as you can get. I think it simply radiates through the screen.

My wife, Angie, who was standing just out of photo frame holding a pile of jackets, remembers him shaking her hand and saying, ‘And you must be the coat girl’. By the way, that’s the late, great cameraman Grant Wyatt peeking out between us.

Do you think my sweater was busy enough?

My guess is the new Jay Leno Show will fly. It’s a big gamble for NBC because that kind of show in that time slot has never been done before but it could be the perfect vehicle for viewers who want a healthy dose of animated chat and a few good laughs before heading off for a more civilized bed time.

If you love learning about the thrust and parry of American network television I urge you to read New York Times writer Bill Carter’s 1996 book, The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno and the Network Battle for the Night. You won’t quite believe what happened with Johnny Carson decided to finally hang it up. It’s a good, juicy read.

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8 Responses to “Good Luck to a Good Guy”

  1. Mike Killeen Says:

    Dave… my old podmate. Luvin’ the blog! The sweater wasn’t busy. It was hideous!! I think I had one just like it. All the best. mk

  2. drmartinvannostrand Says:

    I wonder if Grant let Jay in on his signature “Elvis” joke? Thats gold Grant, Gold!

    • Thank you Cosmo,
      For those of you who don’t know, Grant Wyatt was an extraordinarily talented cameraman with whom I worked for 23 years.
      We traveled from the back roads of British Columbia to Hawaii to New Zealand in search of television stories. Sadly he died this past Spring.
      I will have more on Grant Wyatt in the future on this blog.
      Dave

  3. drmartinvannostrand Says:

    The audio on my television is cutting out randomly and of course both of the channels carrying Jay’s new show don’t work. Well, that was anti-climactic 😦

  4. Dave,
    First, let me say that I refuse to even watch your “replacements”. Hah! No one could possibly replace Simi and you. You two were my reason to watch for 3 hours.
    Now, I am so sorry to learn of Grant’s passing. He was a gem, a great sense of humor, a heavily decorated body yet he was class. My condolences to his friends and family.

  5. Gloria Baird Says:

    Dave,

    I am another fan who refuses to even watch your replacements. My husband and I always watched you and Simi while getting ready for school and work. I am so happy to have you back in my life, even if it is only via your blog. I was shocked to hear that Grant has passed on. This is the same Grant that was on that morning show with you? I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. Please extend my condolences to his family.

  6. Dave,
    I read the book you recommended and found it fascinating. The picture it shows is the same now as it was then. David Letterman is sleeze and Jay has class. I realized that about seven years ago when I watched Jay walk out to the platform, as he normally did to shake hands with members of the audience, and stopped, stepped down and greeted a mentally challenged young man brought to the studio by his mother brfore continuing to the others. That spoke volumes to me. Ever since I have respected the man. To paraphrase another: “No one stands as tall as he who stoops to touch another.”

  7. Judy Wilkes Says:

    I think morning television died the day u and Simi left. I got up early ust to watch it…. amazing…. may u both be healthy and happy.

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