The David Letterman Talk Show You Don't Know...

Amid all the tributes to David Letterman, as his talk show comes to an end tonight, I wish that at least someone on a national scale would have tracked down a clip from the 1979 TV movie, Fast Friends. I remember watching it at the time, and it was enjoyable, but one thing about it always stood out, and which I've always remembered.

The story was sort of a dark showbiz satire centered on a late night TV talk show. As best I can recall at this distance of time, the host, played by Dick Shawn, was lunatic and ultimately had to be replaced. And there was an intense "behind-the-scenes" competition between two guys over who would replace him. And the big twist is that at the very end, neither of them get the job, but it goes instead to a stand-up comic who had appeared on the talk show and done well, holding his own on-air against the host. The choice was a surprise because the actor playing the comic given the late night talk-show host job out of the blue was only 10th-billed on screen and (in real life) not hugely well known. His name was -- David Letterman.

I swear this is true. You can check out the full credits here on iMDB, but this below is part of the site's billing --


Just to put this in proper perspective, this TV movie was a year before he got his own short-lived morning show on NBC, and three years before his Late Night program began on the network.

I tried to track down a video clip of Dave's appearance in the film, but not only couldn't find one, I couldn't find any clips from the movie. But I'm sure a national TV show could have had the resources to track something down. I realize that this qualifies as a Little Known Fact -- and even far lesser known to have actually seen it. But anyone putting together a feature on Letterman should have been able to come across it pretty easily: you look up his credits on iMBD (something pretty basic to do), and look through them. There aren't many acting jobs to go through, and when one of them popped up as being about a talk show, that should have set off alarms.

Ah, well. Maybe someday footage will show up. Until then, the mere whimsy of it is almost enough, just to know. And I couldn't let the day pass without mentioning it.


To read more from Robert J. Elisberg about this or many other matters both large and tidbit small, see Elisberg Industries.