Roseanne claps back during ‘Conners’ premiere ‘I AIN’T DEAD BITCHES’ but internet gets the last laugh

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Photo: Google

Roseanne Barr didn’t take her death well.

As the Roseanne reboot “The Conners ”  made its premiere Tuesday night and confirmed that the disgraced star’s character was good and dead by way of an opioid overdose, Barr shot back on Twitter, “I AIN’T DEAD BITCHES.”

The disgraced comedienne then ranted per usual about being fired from her own show and blasted ABC in a long, drawn out statement with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.


Here is the full statement posted on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s Facebook page:

“While we wish the very best for the cast and production crew of The Conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were Roseanne’s cherished colleagues, we regret that ABC chose to cancel Roseanne by killing off the Roseanne Conner character. That it was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show.

“This was a choice the network did not have to make. Roseanne was the only show on television  that directly addressed the deep divisions threatening the very fabric of our society. Specifically, the show promoted the message that love and respect for one another’s personhood should transcend differences in background and ideological discord. The show brought together characters of different political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds in one, unified family, a rarity in modern American entertainment. Above all else, the show celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leading role, something we need more of in our country.

“Through humor and a universally relatable main character, the show represented a weekly teaching moment for our nation. Yet it is often following an inexcusable — but not unforgivable — mistake that we can discover the most important lesson of all: Forgiveness. After repeated and heartfelt apologies, the network was unwilling to look past a regrettable mistake, thereby denying the twin American values of both repentance and forgiveness. In a hyper-partisan climate, people will sometimes make the mistake of speaking with words that do not truly reflect who they are. However, it is the power of forgiveness that defines our humanity.

“Our society needs to heal on many levels. What better way for healing than a shared moment, once a week, where we could have all enjoyed a compelling storyline featuring a witty character – a woman – who America connected with, not in spite of her flaws, but because of them. The cancellation of Roseanne is an opportunity squandered due in equal parts to fear, hubris, and a refusal to forgive.”

But the internet got the last laugh by responding to Roseanne’s unhinged tweet:





Are you ready for “POSE”?

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Ryan Murphy who pushed the envelope with Glee and American Horror Story, and Nip/Tuck is again taking us on journey.

He is taking us back to the 1980’s New York’s social scene. We revisit the literary scene and for the first time for many, the ball culture world.

In an January an interview, Murphy told reporters “The show is about the search for being authentic, about creating opportunities”  We’re past an era of straight men playing these roles. Its time to think differently and offer more opportunities to people who want to work.  Many of this cast have never been in front  of a camera before.

Pose features the largest cast of transgender and gay actors for a scripted U.S television series.   Based on Murphy’s history, don’t expect an introduction, prepare to be fully immersed.     Pose premiers Sunday June 3rd 9pm ET.



Claire Foy and Matt Smith in “The Crown”(Credit: Netflix/Robert Viglasky)

Netflix’s ‘THE CROWN’ literally revolves around Claire Foy and she was paid less than Matt Smith, who played her husband

By: Erin Keane/


I don’t know if you’ve heard, but women are angry. We are fed up; we have declared #TimesUp on the grabbing and the assaults and the demeaning comments and the gendered expectations in our workplaces. We are tired of being told we are worth less than our male co-workers, both explicitly and implicitly, and when we fail to rectify that through sheer will alone we are tired of being told we must not have wanted it badly enough. And when you’re already angry and fed up with pushing this boulder up a mountain every day with no summit in sight, one small bit of news can feel like enough to make you want to turn around and hurl the rock as hard as you can down the mountain, devastation in your wake be damned.

According to Variety, the producers of “The Crown,” speaking on a panel in Jerusalem earlier this week, admitted that Claire Foy, star of two seasons of the Netflix historic drama and winner of a Golden Globe for her spot-on and humanizing portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II, was paid less than her co-star Matt Smith, who plays Prince Philip.

Foy plays the title role — the Queen is both a person and the office, which hits at the heart of her character’s conflicts — and yet Smith, because he came into negotiations with a higher profile as a former “Doctor Who” star, pulled in the higher salary.

Asked whether Foy was paid the same as Smith, the producers acknowledged that he did make more due to his “Doctor Who” fame, but that they would rectify that for the future.  “Going forward, no one gets paid more than the Queen,” said Mackie.

Oh, good — except Foy and Smith won’t be around to enjoy their equal financial footing in the workplace. The series is jumping ahead in time for season three, replacing the principal cast members with older versions of the royals. Never mind that Netflix wouldn’t have a successful show to time-hop ahead in without Foy’s cutting precision and her brilliant command of her character, which manages to evoke Elizabeth’s stiff persona without ever veering into cheap parody, and while adding layers of subtle emotional texture and intellectual dimension. Smith did fine work as Prince Philip, but the show isn’t called “The Consort Crown,” nor should it have been. Smith’s role was always secondary to Foy’s, and even in his most brilliant scenes, she remains at the center — the very heart — of the production.


Haven’t webeen here already? How loudly do we have to ring the shame bell at producers before they stop underpaying their female talent?

The pushback I am seeing — even among men who agree that the gender pay gap is bad — is that of course Smith could command a higher salary. That’s just how it works! He did four years as the Doctor on “Doctor Who,” after all, between David Tennant and Peter Capaldi, which is a big deal to a certain slice of TV fandom. Foy’s been no slouch herself — before “The Crown” she played Anne Boleyn on the highly-acclaimed, and Golden Globe-winning, limited series adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall,” for one — but yes, if you want to pit two names against each other in the salary negotiation game, Smith came in with a bigger stick. Never mind that Foy herself had no shot at that coveted Doctor spot until now — Jodie Whittaker is the first female Doctor in “Who” history, and she had to fight to get paid the same as her male predecessors. Yes, they were going to pay a female Doctor less. Is anyone surprised?

Women also don’t advocate for themselves, or their agents don’t, is one lame excuse I am tired of hearing. When Jennifer Lawrence penned her blistering takedown of the gender pay gap in Hollywood two and a half years ago, she wrote about learning that her male co-stars made more than her through data revealed in the Sony hack, not through any kind of transparency in the workplace.

A major corporation has to be digitally infiltrated and have all of its sensitive information stolen and exposed to the world — that’s what it can take for women to even know they are being paid less in the first place.

When Lawrence wrote about confronting her gender pay gap, she blamed herself. “I didn’t want to seem ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled,’” she wrote. Can you imagine a world in which women who insist on their own worth don’t have to overcome unspoken, often invisible sexist assumptions first? I’ll wait.Foy’s not the first woman who’s seen a show take off on the strength of her performance and underpay her for it.

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Ellen Pompeo explained in detail how hard she had to work to get paid what she is worth to the show that also bears her character’s name:

For me, Patrick [Dempsey] leaving the show [in 2015] was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me — “We don’t need you; we have Patrick” — which they did for years. I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is Grey’s Anatomy and I’m Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the number one. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy? You feel conflicted but then you figure, “I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.”

Pompeo is the highest-paid actress on TV now, but she had to fight for it, despite the fact that the show that actually does revolve around her is a long-running success. What would happen if producers set their salary baselines at what they were willing to pay the women at the top of the cast? Did Matt Smith’s “Doctor Who” fame make “The Crown” a success? No. What’s even more insulting is that “The Crown,” like “Grey’s Anatomy,” is a show that female fans have championed. Shouldn’t the women who make these shows come alive for us get the biggest reward? It’s too late for Foy on “The Crown,” which is a shame, though it sounds like the women coming after her will be treated fairly. Here’s hoping Foy’s next workplace won’t need to be shamed into compliance, too.

Solving the gender pay gap
How should a company address unequal pay? For former Netflix CTO and author Patty McCord the answer is easy: give women a raise. McCord joined Salon’s Alison Stewart on “Salon Talks” to discuss her new book “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility,” which highlights guiding principles for building a high-performing workplace culture. Distilling lessons from her 14 years as Netflix’s chief talent officer, McCord offers business advice, including how to level wage inequality and build a more inclusive company culture, especially amidst the #MeToo movement. “Write some checks,” McCord responded when asked about how to address the wage inequality. In the end, the numbers will balance out, she says. Many male leaders don’t want to have the conversation because that would mean admitting weakness. McCord shared this story. “I had one CEO tell me one time that ‘Oh I couldn’t do that my lawyers wouldn’t like it.’ And I’m like ‘why who’s gonna sue you because you gave them a raise?’ And he goes, ‘Well they’d know I was wrong.’” Watch the video above to hear McCord’s analysis on why the gender pay gay remains one of the biggest issues facing human resources departments.

RHOA: S10 ep8 “A mad tea party

She’s Beautiful But Can She Cook?

Cynthia is at home bumping pots and pans.  It clear the pots and pans were an after thought or for show as it sounds as if she as thrown them into one section near the stove.   Her daughter Noelle looked surprised to see mama cooking.   Meanwhile Will calls and Noelle wants to meet him.   Cynthia say’s she’ll meet him once they become exclusive.

Give Marlo a Damm Peach already!

Marlo has done her homework.  She watched all of the Housewives episodes and pull the “they hate each other-so lets have a nice sit down, so they can kill each other and I will look like a  nice peacemaker?    Marlo positioned herself ,next to Nene and now there bosom buddies until Kenya drops Cynthia. 

Sheree Needs a Gay Man Stat!- A gay man wouldn’t let her wear that hair!

Sheree who has been stylish cast member.  Has gone blonde and its and EPIC MESS! Speaking of mess, Kandi comes over and ask’s Sheree about her man in the joint. She of course tells her Nene says he’s a con man.   Sheree says, Gregg and Nene both have mugshots so who are they to judge?   (That tidbit was so juicy-it MUST BE FATING!)  Meanwhile, Sheree meets with Kenya (in another bad wig-My KFC almost returned) Kenya is producing a domestic violence PSA.  Sheree resents Kenya being in charge and want to do more but admits she doesn’t have any experience (outside of offending us with those ugly wigs) 

The Old Lady Gang Revolts!

The gang: The Old Lady Gang were keeping Todd and Kandi busy at the restaurant

You have to hand it to Kandi. She shares her personal successes with friend and family. She is very loyal.  She has hired friend and family in all of her business endeavors.    However shortly after opening the General Manager quit and the restaurant is chaotic.       The OLD’s Bertha, Nora and Joyce aren’t happy with the staff.  Butts hanging out, hostess standing in the wrong place..  The gang don’t seem to give a shit about family.  Their faces are all over the restaurant.   (This is why I wouldn’t hire friend and family.-Strangers are easier to fire!)    Todd and Kandi and Don Juan, interview General Manager.  The applicant has done his homework and says the restaurant is struggling with three stars.  Don Juan, laid it out, working for Kandi and Todd is challenging.  and the rest of the folks.

Sniff Sniff

Porsha, fresh from her blind dates is in the office with Ricky Smiley.  In the hallway they kinda sniff each other after some mild flirting.   Dude! Ya’ll too freaky for the CityFella. Moving on with the quickness!

Give Marlo A Peach Part Du

Marlo always brings it , even though she often over does it.  The Nene Porsha come to Jesus Tea meeting.   Cynthia is the first to arrive, she and Marlo have had fights with Nene.   Nene didn’t talk to Marlo for four years and Cynthia for two. they agreed you have to wait for Nene to come around.   Tea was Vodka and Cran. Cynthia missed it.

The issue from Nene perspective is she was there for Porsha and she’s pissed because she texted Porsha and Porsha didn’t call her back.    Okay!   Porsha tried to respond, but Nene who is looking at her phone didn’t give Zero Fucks.

Kenya Spielberg  

Kenya is directing a PSA, she is looking directorish (don’t think that’s a word) .  She asks the women to tell their stories of Abuse.   All were moving.  But it was Cynthia’s mothers story that was by far the most compelling.   She talked about the abuse, that started in her teens to her breaking point where she pulled a knife on her abuser in front of her children.   We also learned at 16 Kenya was stabbed by her boyfriend.  Nene was abused by her oldest sons father.

Sheree was in an car accident on route to she shoot. Despite her pain with tears in her eyes she walked up a flight of stairs and managed to record her segment.



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By: Inkoo Kang/MTV

The fight for interracial marriage stands as one of the most drawn-out civil rights battles in American history. Begun in 1787, the same year the Constitution was first ratified, it would be another 180 years until Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that finally abolished anti miscegenation laws across the country. This month’s Loving, the awards-contending film about the rural Virginian couple that teamed up with the ACLU to assert their prerogative to be husband and wife, serves as a necessary reminder that their struggle took place less than five decades ago.

Postwar pop culture reflects the racist anxieties of those times. Hollywood’s first mixed-race kiss was in the 1957 drama Island in the Sun, which features two black-white couples on a fictional Caribbean island. Dorothy Dandridge locks lips with the white John Justin, but Harry Belafonte’s kiss with Joan Fontaine — originally in the script — was removed. (The film was protested and boycotted by theaters regardless.) Lucy and Ricky pecked and smooched more than they kissed on I Love Lucy despite being a real-life married couple, and the 1968 lip-lock between Captain Kirk and Uhura on Star Trek — generally considered TV’s first black-white buss — took place against their will, their mouths pressed together by a magic spell.

Things are undoubtedly better today. And yet, at a time when pop culture has never been more diverse, movies and television seem to be lagging behind reality in depicting interracial love. In 2013, around one in eight marriages were interracial. If you haven’t been in a mixed-race relationship, you probably know at least one long term couple who is. But the closest that 2016’s top 20 movies come to an interracial romance involving the main characters are between a rabbit and a fox in Zootopia. None of this year’s biggest romances or romantic thrillers — Me Before You, Bridget Jones’s Baby, and The Girl on the Train — have people of color in the core cast. (And it’s important that these mixed-race relationships involve protagonists, i.e., the characters most likely to receive development and thus have their romances given nuance and depth.) The situation looks slightly better for Oscar hopefuls, with Loving and Lion entangling its central characters in interracial relationships. But those are both biopics — meaning they had to feature mixed-race romances. You can’t say the same for the white-on-white casting of La La Land.

As greater representation becomes a bigger part of our culture, it’s worth asking how we want that inclusion to look. Interracial love should be a key part of how we see and imagine diversity, not only to reflect a fundamental part of who we are as a people now, but also because romance plays such a crucial role in who we think of as desirable, as fuckable, as lovable, as threatening (or not), as sensitive (or not), as who we perceive as “one of us” versus “one of them.” And it’s important that every group gets the chance to see themselves as worthy of love and worthy of sex and worthy of being called beautiful, especially when American history has taught racial and sexual minorities for so long that they are beneath such considerations.

As with nearly all forms of inclusiveness, TV has done a lot better. A number of shows feature its protagonists in serious interracial relationships, including Jessica Jones, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Brooklyn 99, Quantico, and How to Get Away With Murder. A few standouts have used a couple’s disparate backgrounds for cross-cultural conflicts or simply differences that make lovers’ quarrels feel fresh. On Jane the Virgin and The Mindy Project, the protagonists clash with the fathers of their children over their babies’ future religious upbringing. On Scandal, Olivia Pope’s exacting dad-ocrat disapproves of a silver-spooned white man who’s had the presidency stolen for him as a romantic partner for his daughter, whom he’s encouraged all her life to work twice as much as anybody else, if only for half the recognition. And on Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s Dev explains to his white girlfriend that he can’t have the kind of relationship with his grandmother that the young woman has with hers, since Dev’s grandmother lives in India and he doesn’t speak Tamil. Asked why he doesn’t learn the language, he flips the question back on her: Has she tried learning Tamil? It’s really hard!

But these shows — most of them repeatedly cited for their history-making diversity and not coincidentally created by writers of color — tend to be the exception, not the rule. Which is why Ross and Joey and Ted and Barney and Jerry and George and Hannah and Marnie can all live in one of the most multiracial cities on the planet and, excepting a token here and there, only date — or even see — other white people. But if we don’t want future generations cringing at our culture the way we flinch at the prejudices of the past, we should make and promote more work that showcases the ways we love — not the ways we we fear.

ABC’s The View: Barbara Walters vision ruined?

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Over two decades ago Barbara Walters and producer Bill Geddie created a daytime talk show hosted by different generations of women, it was the first of its kind.

I’m a huge fan of the show and I watch it daily.  The discussions are lively and topical. Missing it was not an option as the The View is part of America’s daily dialogue.

The success of the show belongs to Geddie and Walters who carefully chose the hosts. They allowed the talent to develop building a relationship with each others and with the viewers.

Sherri Shepard and Elizabeth Hasselbeck are two examples of that development.  Comedienne  Actress Shepard didn’t seem to grasp of the world and the topics, she seemed lost much of the time.   I struggled with Hasselbeck’s youth ,while others struggled with her conservatism.

 As the lone conservative Hasselbeck faced a daily challenges, especially against the very liberal Joy Behar and the ultra liberal Rosie O’Donnell .  Overtime, all the host allowed us into a brief  look  into  their private lives(including Barbara). They shared stories of weight loss,dating, family ,daily rants and challenges that we can all relate to.. Through those personal experiences.I got to know  Hasselbeck and Shepard and a bond developed.

When a host left the show it was like a friend moving out of state.

Barbara was the mother, Geddie was stern uncle.  When Whoopi and Joy walked off during the Bill O’Reilly interview. Mother was not happy!  O’Reilly was a guest in their home and walking out was not acceptable! From time to time she’d remind Goldberg and Behar of their misdeeds.

When Hasselbeck announced she was leaving “The View’, there were many rumors. Most believed she was being forced out due to her conservative views.  Elizabeth has publicly said it was further from the truth.   When Barbara Walter announced she was retiring,Elizabeth told Rachael Ray’s audience  “I don’t believe her!””I hope that she is as celebrated as she deserves to be. She’s just a great teacher. I owe her a debt of gratitude.”

Other shows imitated “The View” notably “The Talk” and “The Real”

With mom and uncle Bill gone, the house unstable.  Bonding is difficult for the audience and cast members due to the never ending revolving door.  The new hosts are clearly intimated by the veterans Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar.

There have been more cast changes at the view since Barbara’s Retirement in 2014, Rosie O Donnell, Sherri Sheppard, Jenny McCarthy, Rosie Perez, Nicole Wallace, Michelle Collins, Raven Symone and last week Candace Cameron Bure than in the previous 17 seasons combined.  Whoopi Goldberg say’s this season is her last.

Television often rely on focus groups to determine the direction of the show.  Sometimes the likability factor often decides who is hired or who stays.   Under Walters and Geddie it seems information from the focus groups aided in the development of the casting.   Under the new regime, they seems to relies solely from the data from the groups to determine casting.

Sources says ,she feels  ABC execs  have ruined the show that she and Geddie built. In retirement Barbara calls the control room to offer suggestions as she did when she was producer

.She believes the legacy has been compromised due to poor casting and bad leadership. Walter is concerned the show will be remembered for its petty backstage bickering and revolving door of talent.

Barbara Walters (mom),the Legend is not happy!





Paul Shaffer: Life After Letterman

Paul Shaffer attends the 2011 Apollo Theater Spring Gala in New York City. For 33 years, Paul Shaffer has been the warm to David Letterman’s cool, the Ed to his Johnny and the Peaches to his Herb. So what happens when the world’s greatest sidekick has to go solo? SHAHAR AZRAN/WIREIMAGE

By Lisa Birnbach/Newsweek

It might surprise you to learn that Paul Shaffer is a morning person. We associate him with late night television, where he has made being a sidekick a cool gig for over three decades. And because he leads a rock-and-roll band (in his hip shades and outrageous suits), and we assume rock musicians are out jamming all night (and they’re not known to be Boy Scouts), it is notable that he’s invited me to breakfast. To completely shatter the image, I can state with a high degree of confidence that Shaffer is pretty damn perky before his first cup of coffee.

There he is, casually attired in black pants with many zippers and a plain black shirt, arranging a buffet for us from the nearby Gourmet Garage at his Manhattan apartment with its dazzling 200-degree views of New York and New Jersey from the 57th floor. Because it is the morning of the first night of Passover, Shaffer has opened a box of matzohs and set it next to the plate of pastries. In less than 12 hours, leavened bread will be out of both our diets for a week, so he’s covered all bases.

His living-dining room is not showbizzy, a memorabilia-free zone; there is a baby grand piano in a corner, but unlike many Manhattan apartments that have one just for show (or to display photographs), this is the instrument of an actual musician. The framed gold and platinum records, signed photographs and other souvenirs of a life spent in the business are hidden away in the den.

His most treasured objet de rock is a hat worn by famed ’60s rock-and-roll disc jockey Murray the K, “given to me by Ronnie Spector [lead singer of The Ronettes], a friend…. I am sort of a Murray the K character,” Shaffer says. “And this was the kind of hat he was seen wearing on his TV special, It’s What’s Happening, Baby.” That 1965 special featured Murray the K dancing with Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Ronettes, Ray Charles, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Tom Jones and many other pop stars of the day.

Shaffer adds that he has never worn the hat. He keeps it under glass.

Then-Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman performs “Johnny B. Goode” with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra as David Letterman looks on, on the set of “Late Show with David Letterman,” December 21, 2011. Shaffer’s 33-year run with David Letterman comes to an end in late May. JOHN P. FILO/CBS

Comically Reverential
We are meeting to talk about Shaffer’s 33-year run with David Letterman as it wends to its end in late May. Though we have known each other for years, neither of us is positive about when we first met. I think it was in the early 1980s, when we were both staying at the Westwood Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles: We were the only two guests sitting by the pool (which, if memory serves, was the size of a conference room table). He remembers the pool, but is pretty certain we first met when I was a guest on Late Night in 1984. Nevertheless, over the years we have been friendly, but not intimate. (Let’s pretend that was for the purposes of full disclosure.)

Shaffer says 33 years is not what anyone had in mind when he was offered his first Letterman contract. It was for six months—as was his next contract, and the next, and so on for a few years. “I had been used to long runs,” he says of that first contract. “I had just been on SNL for five years; I played in the house band, but I got into some of the comedy pieces as well.” The blend of music and comedy came easily to the Thunder Bay, Ontario, native. His dad was a jazz lover; his mother loved show tunes. “We made one critical trip to Las Vegas when I was 12. My parents adored show business, not gambling. We saw a Nat King Cole show and another with Juliet Prowse [a dancer]. It was life-changing. I never recovered.”

From that moment on, he wanted to be a performer. “I’d describe Paul’s feelings about show business as being comically reverential,” says his close friend, comedy writer Tom Leopold. “It was magic to him growing up. But even as a kid he thought it was funny that show folk called each other a genius every minute.”

Shaffer had a bar mitzvah, took piano lessons all the way through high school and ended up at his father’s alma mater, the University of Toronto, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. In 1972, he became the musical director of the Toronto production of Godspell. The cast of the musical included Victor Garber, Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas and Andrea Martin, who all went on to much (and many) bigger things. “Comedy was fascinating to me. My best friends from Toronto turned out to be the funniest people in the business.” Those friends helped lay the foundation of anti-establishment comedy of the ’70s, both in Toronto’s Second City troupe and TV show, and then, of course, on Saturday Night Live.

Victoria Jackson, Jon Lovitz, Nora Dunn, Paul Shaffer, Jan Hooks, Phil Hartman, Dennis Miller during the closing on “Saturday Night Life”, January 31, 1987. Often referred to as “greatest sidekick in television,” Shaffer takes that praise humbly, and its title seriously. ALAN SINGER/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK/GETTY

In late 1981, Shaffer was called in for a meeting in a barren office at NBC with Barry Sand, a TV producer, and David Letterman, a weatherman-turned-comedian from Indianapolis who had been hosting an irreverent (therefore unsuccessful) morning show on NBC. Now the plan was to redirect his talents to late night television, and he needed someone to play with on the air. The meeting lasted all of 30 minutes and was followed by another meeting some weeks later at which “they asked the exact same questions,” Shaffer says. “Dave claims that he never had anyone else in mind, and I believe him, though other staff members had other ideas…like I think [director] Hal Gurnee wanted Leon Redbone.”

Often referred to as “greatest sidekick in television,” Shaffer takes that praise humbly, and its title seriously. “Being the sidekick encompasses being the straight man,” he says, “which is a venerable position in show business. I am so proud of learning how to be the straight man for Dave. He encouraged me to jump in, ‘whenever you have something.’ Obviously, I wasn’t going to do that during the monologue, but anytime after he got to the desk—even when there was a guest. Our show was reality television. We never knew what would happen. Dave made us a team.

“Unlike our friend, the great character actor—and strange man—Calvert DeForest, who played Larry ‘Bud’ Melman [on The Late Show], I had a real function. I was not just a funny character. And I got to do everything I do all at once.


Roastmaster Paul Shaffer and dancers perform during “The New York Friars Club Roast of Chevy Chase” in New York City, September 28, 2002. Shaffer wanted to be a performer from a young age. FRANK MICELOTTA/IMAGEDIRECT/GETTY

As one who worships the Rat Pack—the posse of impossibly cool entertainers who virtually owned Las Vegas in the ’50s and ’60s: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford—Shaffer copied their cool, jazzy, jive talk. “I had a backlog of Rat Pack expressions,” he says. “The very first time I spoke on the air, I used one. David said, ‘Do more of that. That’s hilarious.

(About Shaffer’s reverence for the Rat Pack, Leopold says: “I don’t think Paul would trust a man who didn’t want to be Dean Martin. Even Jerry Lewis wants to be Dean Martin.”)

God Sits In With the Band

The template for the late night show—host, band, sidekick, monologue, guests—was, of course, created on The Tonight Show, and both Letterman and Shaffer were enormously influenced by the original host, Steve Allen, and Johnny Carson, who made it an American pop cultural touchstone in the ’60s and ’70s. “I was a combination of Doc [Severinsen, Carson’s bandleader] and Ed [McMahon, Carson’s sidekick]. I couldn’t be off [just waiting to play in the breaks]. It took me a while to learn how to focus for the whole hour.”

In six-month increments, Shaffer was renewed and grew more comfortable in his hybrid role. At a certain point, while still at NBC, Shaffer says he, “ran out of [Rat Pack] material, so then Dave said it would be great if we had aconversation. That’s when it became super interesting for me. It became spontaneous.”

But do not underestimate Shaffer’s musical talent and how important it was to the show. “Back in the ’80s, I got to be the first person with a rock-and-roll band on TV,” Shaffer says. “The artists immediately responded. We were playing the music of James Brown, and sure enough we got a phone call from James Brown, who wanted to play with that band, and that shot us into the stratosphere as far as we were concerned. James Brown was the end-all and be-all to me and the other guys in the band.”

05_15_Shaffer_06Ray Manzarek from the Doors poses with Paul Shaffer backstage on “Late Night with David Letterman” in New York City, January 25,1984. Shaffer says 33 years is not what anyone had in mind when he was offered his first Letterman contract. It was for six months—as was his next contract, and the next, and so on for a few years. EBET ROBERTS/REDFERNS/GETTY

John Helliwell of Supertramp was the first musician to “sit in” with the band. “He said, ‘I could be like those jazz cats who sit in.’ Then [Eric] Clapton said, ‘I’d like to sit in,’ and then everybody wanted to do it. And everyone did it, including iconic jazz cats like Dizzy Gillespie, the bebopper of all beboppers. My dad was a jazz fan, and I would call him and say, ‘Dad, I played with Steve Miller; he’s my favorite,’ and he’d say, ‘Everyone’s your favorite.’ The Reverend Al Green played with us many times, and Sly of the Family Stone, and Carole King, and the list goes on and on.”

When Letterman decamped to CBS in 1993, he received ownership of the Late Show With David Letterman, and as Shaffer’s employer, made sure his new contracts were for five years.

What’s their relationship like? “In a run of 33 years, you go through phases,” Shaffer says. “We would double-date in the early years, and then there was a period where we thought we should ‘save it for the air,’ and socialize less. When Dave got his place in Montana, he invited our family out every year for a week to go horseback-riding and fishing. It was always great family time.”

05_15_Shaffer_TOCPaul Shaffer performs on “Late Night with David Letterman,” July 13, 2009. What’s their relationship like? “In a run of 33 years, you go through phases,” Shaffer says JOHN P. FILO/CBS

Like Carson before him, Letterman has been in America’s living rooms for what seems like thousands of hours but is still not really known. That changed somewhat in 2000 when he left the show to have a quintuple bypass. “It was very emotional for him to return to the show,” Shaffer says. “He brought some of his doctors and nurses on the show to thank them. He loved doing the show, and it reminded us how much we loved the show too. He is well-known by the staff for being hard on himself. He watches the show and beats himself up—‘Why did I say that?’ sort of thing. Dave has never walked through the show. He cares about doing the best he can for his audience.”

Perhaps the greatest gift he gave that audience was his return to live television six days after 9/11. “Everyone else in late night was looking to him to see how to behave…. No one was coming back on the air to do comedy until David deemed it appropriate to come back,” Shaffer says of the show’s return on September 17, 2001. “We were uptown, but when we walked outside the studio, we could smell death. When we came back, it was clear we were broadcasting from a war zone.”

The birth of Letterman’s son, Harry, now 11, seemed to make the comedian much happier and more open, and Shaffer admires the way his pal (and boss) makes family time a priority for himself and his crew. “This job has afforded me the ability to have a regular family life.” Shaffer has been married for 25 years to Cathy Vasapoli, a former talent booker on Good Morning America. They have two children, Victoria, 22, an aspiring talk show host, and Will, 16, who wants to be a professional athlete when he grows up. “The life of most musicians, no matter who you are, is on a bus… if they are lucky,” Shaffer says. “I’ve been luckier.”

05_15_Shaffer_08Paul Shaffer sits on the lawn with his wife Cathy Vasapoli while she holds their daughter Lily. KIMBERLY BUTLER/THE LIFE IMAGES COLLECTION/GETTY

In addition to his Late Show gig, Shaffer has been active in many aspects of the music business, recording with everyone from Donald Fagen to Warren Zevon to Grand Funk Railroad, composing (“It’s Raining Men”), appearing as Polymer Records rep Artie Fufkin in the genre-defining This Is Spinal Tap, performing with The Blues Brothers and on sitcoms, and playing backup to all his musical heroes, including Miles Davis. (They performed “We Three Kings of Orient Are” in Bill Murray’s movie Scrooged and again on TV.) He is also the longtime musical director and producer of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s induction ceremonies. He has been a Hollywood Square, did a cameo on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and published a memoir, We’ll Be Here for the Rest of Our Lives: A Swingin’ Showbiz Saga.

Instead of bemoaning the loss of his best gig, Shaffer is busily planning the big musical numbers and surprises for the show’s wind down. “It’s tribute time,” he says, referring to the encomia that guests on the show have been breaking into lately. “People have grown up with this show, and now they want to come and say thanks for shaping their comedy personas.”

05_15_Shaffer_02Paul Shaffer and Bill Murray perform the Marty and Beyonce skit, February 15, 2015. In addition to his Late Show gig, Shaffer has been active in many aspects of the music business, recording with everyone from Donald Fagen to Warren Zevon to Grand Funk Railroad. THEO WARGO/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK/GETTY

It’s been a long morning of reminiscing, and it feels like I have been forcing Shaffer to be more sentimental about the end of his Letterman collaboration than he seems to want to be…at least yet. “Now I’m not focused on what I’ll do at 4:30 every day [after the show wraps for good],” he says. “What I’m feeling now is grateful. Dave has been a great boss.”

But how could he not be a little wistful? “I’m sure he will miss the show,” says Shaffer’s pal, Leopold. “Paul is the only person in show business history to have a job for 30 years. People get gold watches in factories for less time than that.”

Shaffer says he’s in no way ready to slow down or take his gold watch to play golf. He wants to do more acting, but first, “I’m going to learn to sight-read and play the bass pedals on the Hammond organ.”

He’s not kidding.

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