AMA with Rob Burnett (Longtime Letterman exec. producer)

As a writer, producer, and executive, Rob Burnett has worked for and with (well, okay, given the flow of money: mostly “for”) David Letterman since “Late Night”‘s early days, as a series of YouTube videos of Dave’s cats wearing adorable things on their heads. Recently, he did a Q&A on Reddit that’s very much worth reading.

My favorite quote, in which he talks about dealing with difficult guests and people:

Occasionally a publicist might get aggressive. I’ll leave the names out because we have to work with these people, but once I remember a publicist threatening to pull a guest because he/she/it didn’t like the way we had formatted the show. Specifically, the order of the guests. I politely told he/she/it that they couldn’t tell us how to format our show, much as I would never tell he/she/it how to producer their movie/album/book.

The publicist turned to his/her/its assistant publicist and said, “Call Jay and see if he has an opening.” At which point I turned to our talent booker and said, “Call Tom Brokaw and see if he’s available for tonight.”

Reddit: I am Rob Burnett, Executive Producer of the Late Show with David Letterman, and a writer/director/producer of television and movies.

1 thought on “AMA with Rob Burnett (Longtime Letterman exec. producer)”

  1. It’s a cool story, and is probably true in some regard, but the details seem more than a little fuzzy, which calls it into question.

    Was the publicist going to be able to get the guest from New York to L.A. in the course of an afternoon, to be on the Tonight Show that same night? I guess Jay tapes 3 hours after Dave, given the time-zone difference…

    It’s possible but unlikely, especially if the star is booked into a set of publicity appearances in the NYC area, or is in town for a particular appearance or event.

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