Archive for Saturday, February 10, 2001

Two top reasons why Letterman’s in hot water

February 10, 2001

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— David Letterman is doing what all good talk show hosts do from time to time ruffling a few feathers.

The New York Post reported on Friday that a Letterman Top 10 list that poked fun at his network was scrapped this week. The list referred to a lawsuit filed by a former "Survivor" participant who claimed the reality show was rigged.

The initial taping of Letterman's show on Tuesday featured a comedic list of the Top 10 reasons to sue CBS. After the taping was concluded, however, Letterman asked the audience to stay as a substitute list was filmed regarding Jennifer Lopez.

The Post quoted an actress attending the taping, Paulette Osborne, as saying Letterman seemed "very upset" that the CBS list wasn't used.

CBS spokeswoman Rosemary Keenan said no pressure was applied to Letterman, and that the talk show host and his producers decided on the change themselves.

"It didn't get a good reaction from the audience and they felt it wasn't funny enough," she said.

Letterman's long history of mocking the networks that air him, first NBC and now CBS, would seem to indicate that he doesn't get pushed around. Keenan said the only time CBS waves a red flag on Letterman's material is if it appears to be libelous.

Meanwhile, a Letterman joke in December about Dr Pepper wasn't deemed too funny by the soft drink company, a CBS advertiser.

After a representative of Dr Pepper complained, CBS agreed not to rerun the Dec. 20 episode, although Keenan said shows that originally aired near a holiday are rarely repeated anyway because they appear dated.

Letterman's joke poked fun at Dr Pepper as being foul-tasting. He repeatedly said afterward even joined by guest George Clooney that he was only joking.

This week, the trade publication Mediaweek reported, using anonymous sources, that in return Dr Pepper was given a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl either for free or at a deep discount.

Super Bowl commercials cost companies an average of $2.3 million for a half-minute this year, although the price is lower in the fourth quarter, when the Dr Pepper ad ran.

CBS would not comment Friday on its relationship with Dr Pepper. A network executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, denied that the company received a Super Bowl discount.

A Dr Pepper spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment Friday.

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