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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

Regis Talks to David Letterman

Aired May 29, 2012 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


REGIS PHILBIN, GUEST HOST: I woke up this morning and I said to myself, Regis, this will be a great day to go over to CNN and guest host Piers Morgan's show. So let's go. It's me, Regis.

Now, if only I can get a big star. I mean, one person I really want to talk to. This is the real Dave Letterman. This is why you never see him guesting anywhere. He won't do it.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": The two people who are the most important to me in my life, you, and my wife, have the same name.

PHILBIN: How you doing? Hey, look up there. Watch out, CNN, it's me Regis hosting "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT."

Hi, everybody. It's me Regis. You remember me? I'm a good pal of Piers Morgan. We five years ago started "America's Got Talent." I was the host and Piers was a very, very severe judge. Oh, boy, was he something.

Anyway, I'm very flattered to be here tonight. I'm very happy to have as my very special guest someone you don't see guesting anywhere. I mean he just doesn't do it. People have tried for years. I mean, he just -- he's not a guest. He's a host. And a great host, too. Speaking about David Letterman.

Now, you know, you're not going to see David Letterman walking in the streets of New York. You could look for him, you're never going to see him. You're not going to see him ever dancing at the Waldorf. And you're not going to see him getting all dressed up to go to the Metropolitan Costume Ball here in New York City.

He just doesn't do things like that. But you can see him every night on his own show. And I must tell you how all this happened because, as I said, he doesn't really do this. But Don Rickles and I were guests on Dave's show. And Rickles was very -- in fact we had a wonderful show and after the show Dave took everybody out to dinner.

And so we were at dinner and Dave says, what's next in your life? And I said, well, I couldn't even think of what was next. And Joy said, well, you heard from CNN today that Piers Morgan is taking a week off, they'd like you to do a night. And Dave said that's great. I'd like to be your guest.

And I said, wait a minute. You want to be my guest? I've known you a long time, are you sure you want to be a guest? I want to be a guest. I didn't bring it up the rest of the night. Just before we broke for -- to go home, I said, Dave, now are you sure? And he said, I'm going to be there.

Sure enough, he is here. And you'll see him, you know, on his own show every night 11:30, he's streaking across the stage. Comes out looking like a million bucks and gives you the best hour of television you'll see that day or that night.

Ladies and gentlemen, my friend, my guest, David Letterman.

LETTERMAN: Oh, boy.

PHILBIN: You heard the applause.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Very nice. Hi, Regis. How are you?

PHILBIN: Have a seat right here.

LETTERMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you so much.

PHILBIN: Dave, take a look around at how Piers Morgan lives. Why can't we live like this?

LETTERMAN: You know, I was -- I had to use the bathroom before I came out here.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: The lighting in the restroom is superior to the lighting on your old show.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: This place is amazing. It is remarkable.

PHILBIN: Well, it's all brand new.

Now, listen. You're at a place over there on Broadway, the old Ed Sullivan Theater.

LETTERMAN: Yes, I love the Ed Sullivan Theater.

PHILBIN: You did it over nicely. LETTERMAN: We were looking at different facilities around the city. This hadn't even been built, this place.

PHILBIN: That's right.

LETTERMAN: And we went in there and it was a minute or two away from being condemned. In actuality. And by god, in a very short period of time they turned it from whatever it had been into just a first rate television facility. And I'm from the school that you do TV in a studio. And so I was wondering if it could be, in fact, done from a theater.

But the place is fantastic.

PHILBIN: It is.

LETTERMAN: I look around there every night and I think I'm so lucky to be a part of a production coming from this place because it's both intimate and it's as big as you need it to be and as intimate as you need it to be.

PHILBIN: And very (INAUDIBLE) to know I've done your show more than anyone else. But we've never really had a chance to talk about our childhood. I got to tell you something. I had no idea this would ever happen to me, that I would get on television. No confidence at all. Didn't pursue anything in high school or college like the stage or anything that might have helped me a little bit.

But I did fall in love with Bing Crosby's voice in the Depression, in the late '30s going into the '40s. WNDW played Crosby at 9:30 every night. I loved him and I loved the sound of his voice and the way he acted. And that was my only inspiration to get involved in this business.

Now take me back. When you were a young little guy in -- in Indianapolis, did anybody inspire you?

LETTERMAN: Well --

PHILBIN: Did you have a favorite comedian or a comic or somebody?

LETTERMAN: I mean it wasn't Bing Crosby. I mean you -- I mean you're -- this is right after the civil war. I mean you are way back there.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: I knew you'd say that.

LETTERMAN: Well, you know, when I was a kid, my mom, before I went to school used to like Arthur Godfrey. And in those days, Arthur Godfrey dominated television.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: He has, like, a morning radio show. Then that was partly -- part of that was a television show also. There was a simulcast of the radio show. And then he had a nighttime talent scout show on Monday nights.

PHILBIN: Exactly.

LETTERMAN: And then he had -- later in the week he had an hour- long variety show. So our household was full of Arthur Godfrey productions. And I can just remember being fascinated by when they would open the television part of the simulcast, they would have the earphones. And the earphones would just be hanging there to suggest where Arthur would, you know, place his head.

And there was something about the microphone and the earphones and the equipment that I found fascinating.

PHILBIN: Really?

LETTERMAN: And I just thought there's something very cool about this.

PHILBIN: This is September 1st, 1969. I saved this magazine for 43 years.

LETTERMAN: Wow. Wow.

PHILBIN: And this is the first year three networks went with talk show hosts late at night.

LETTERMAN: Right.

PHILBIN: And this is Merv just starting at --

LETTERMAN: Which one is Merv? This is Merv right there?

PHILBIN: This is Merv.

LETTERMAN: Good heavens.

PHILBIN: Sure.

LETTERMAN: Joey Bishop, your buddy. And Johnny Carson.

PHILBIN: Here's Johnny. He started in '67 and Johnny in 1962.

LETTERMAN: Right.

PHILBIN: Now what were you doing in 1969? Were you still in school?

LETTERMAN: 1969?

PHILBIN: Yes. (INAUDIBLE).

LETTERMAN: Yes. I was -- I was just graduating from college.

PHILBIN: Did you -- did you have an eye for the show business at that point?

LETTERMAN: Well, it's a silly story, but where better to tell a silly story than here with you. I was like you. I was sort of lost. In school. And I had a bunch of friends and as the grades progressed, I realized how important it was to study and make good grades if you wanted to have the same peer group.

And I was falling behind. I couldn't -- I couldn't do anything. And all of my buddies were math and chemistry and algebra and on and on. And I was kind of on the soft curriculum. You know? It was -- you know, shop and that sort of -- nothing wrong with that.

PHILBIN: Really?

LETTERMAN: But that's -- and I -- I can remember doing so poorly my mom was very upset about it and she said we're going to try to get you into a trade school. And again, that would have been fine, but I was not able to keep up. And then one semester I took a public speaking course. And the first assignment for the public speaking course was a five-minute extemporaneous -- what do they call it -- speech? Made of adlib speech --

(CROSSTALK)

LETTERMAN: And so I got up and did that. And I -- whether it went well or not, I felt it went well and I realized, oh, this might be --

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: My saving -- my lifeline. I might be able to turn this into doing something.

PHILBIN: Isn't that nice?

LETTERMAN: So then I -- then I stopped worrying so much about other things and just knew that all I have to do is find a way that you can get paid for what I thought I can do.

PHILBIN: And when did --

LETTERMAN: Whether I could do or not.

PHILBIN: And when did the comedy phase hit you that you wanted to be a comedian, you wanted to get involved in comedy?

LETTERMAN: Well, as a kid, I think most kids are always funny. You know, kids are always trying to be funny. And all of my buddies were funny. And I just thought well, this would be great if I could get a job writing. I'd worked in television and worked in radio. But it was not as challenging or as exciting as I wanted it to be. It was pretty prohibitive.

You know you were a weatherman, a newsman or --

PHILBIN: Sure.

LETTERMAN: Or a kids show host.

PHILBIN: So one night you just packed up and drove to Hollywood?

LETTERMAN: Well, in a matter of speaking, yes. In 1975 I did that. My wife and I did that, put everything in the truck and went to California.

PHILBIN: Went to California. And things happened right away. LETTERMAN: Happened right away. But not because of me, it was just in those days, as I said before, if you wanted to go to California and become a comic or get involved in comedy, writing, performing, whatever, the blueprint of that was laid out in front of you. Every night on "The Tonight Show." They would have brand new comedians, some --

PHILBIN: Right.

LETTERMAN: -- returning, some new. And Johnny would invariably say before or after that was Steve Landesberg, you can Steve Landesberg every night of the week at the Comedy Store in Sunset Boulevard here in Hollywood.

And it -- pretty soon you realize that that was an instant connection.

PHILBIN: Absolutely.

LETTERMAN: Comedy Store, you knew that they had the amateur night and then "The Tonight Show." So in 1975 I went out there, and three years later I was a guest on "The Tonight Show." So it was so much easier for me. And it was great for "The Tonight Show" because they needed --

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: -- people to -- you know, in those days the show was 90 minutes.

PHILBIN: That's right.

LETTERMAN: Your show as an hour, just seemed like 90 minutes.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: But it -- I mean it's the same thing.

PHILBIN: You get on the Johnny Carson show. It's your turn to go on the show, and I think you knocked them out that night.

LETTERMAN: I did pretty well. But first timers tend to do pretty well because in those days they had a wonderful screening system. They would have talent coordinators would come to see you and they would work out a set, and they would say yes, we think we like you and we'll be back in six weeks.

And they didn't -- the last thing they wanted to do is have a guy come on and not do well, or have a women come on and not do well. Because this was "The Tonight Show." This was the Cadillac.

PHILBIN: Absolutely. Yes.

LETTERMAN: They wanted to look -- you know, there was never a soft moment on that show.

PHILBIN: You're right.

LETTERMAN: So you were pretty well guaranteed through working with these people that you were going to do all right.

PHILBIN: And you did just fine because not everybody got invited over to the desk --

LETTERMAN: Right.

PHILBIN: -- and heard this from Johnny Carson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Had to hitchhike over here this evening. And this guy stops and picks me up. He's driving an old beat-up Dodge with a bed frame, you know, the kind that gets on the freeway at an angle like this. Right away I'm apprehensive about getting in, you know? The guy driving the car is wearing a cowboy hat and a hospital gown, you see. So.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: And he's rolling -- the thing that bothers me most of all about him, he's rolling the biggest joint I'd ever seen in my entire life. He was using Pampers and --

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNNY CARSON, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": I have a feeling your shot on this show tonight, you're going to be working a lot outside the Comedy Store.

LETTERMAN: Thank you.

CARSON: Really. I hope you come with us.

LETTERMAN: I'd love to. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: There's Johnny.

PHILBIN: He predicted it right there.

LETTERMAN: That breaks my heart to see Johnny again.

PHILBIN: That you were going to be a big hit.

LETTERMAN: Please don't roll anymore tape.

PHILBIN: Really?

LETTERMAN: No, I'm coming across the table if you roll another tape.

PHILBIN: No kidding, you really -- LETTERMAN: There's going to be blood shed right here.

PHILBIN: We worked for two --

LETTERMAN: I can take you.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: We worked for two months to put this together.

LETTERMAN: I don't care. I don't want --

PHILBIN: It really bothers you that much?

LETTERMAN: I don't want anymore tape.

PHILBIN: Then we're not going to do it. You heard him. Cancel the tape.

When we come back, we'll talk some more about --

LETTERMAN: Now why don't you get a show just like this? You should have a show just like this. This would be great.

PHILBIN: You think so?

LETTERMAN: Oh, yes. And they could put it right in the CNN lineup. I'm sure there's room. You've got Piers Morgan, you've got pretty boy -- what's his name? Dawson -- what's huh?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARSON: Miss Letterman, this is Johnny Carson. I'm calling from NBC in Burbank.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my word.

CARSON: How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fine, thank you.

CARSON: Miss Letterman, can I ask you a question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.

CARSON: Has David ever told you that he hopes that I get run over by a water delivery truck? So he can get the 11:30 time period on NBC? Has he ever told you that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he talks about it frequently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: He talks about it frequently. (LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: That was pretty good.

PHILBIN: That was --

LETTERMAN: Johnny, that's just Johnny.

PHILBIN: Gosh. Did you have a good relationship with Johnny?

LETTERMAN: Yes, but he made me very nervous because he was, I think, the biggest star on television. And I was just a kid who had, you know, kind of followed the beacon of his light coming out of Burbank. And to be on his show was endlessly nerve racking. And then to actually be with him in a social situation, I kind of have a history of -- I got to know Jack Parr.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: And I had a great deal of admiration for Jack Paar and he had worked with Hal Gurnee. And I started to spend more and more time with Jack Paar. And I would get more and more comfortable with Jack Paar. And I began to notice that Jack, bless his heart, would tell the same stories over and over again.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: They were great stories.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: Fantastic stories. But that was -- that was it. And then the inevitable, I think he started to dislike me.

PHILBIN: Who? Jack Paar?

LETTERMAN: Yes. And then I felt uncomfortable. So I was always worried that if I relaxed and got comfortable with Johnny, the same thing might happen. Do you understand what I'm saying?

PHILBIN: I understand exactly what you're saying. I became friends with Jack Paar.

LETTERMAN: Yes.

PHILBIN: I understand everything you're saying. But he never spoke ill of you. He thought you were great.

LETTERMAN: Well, it may have been something that I was feeling that didn't actually exist. But I just thought this relationship with Johnny Carson is costumed made for me to screw up. Because in those days, Johnny Carson meant the world. I mean, that was it.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: That was the hall of fame. You wanted that endorsement. You wanted that friendship. Because, A, if you didn't do well on the show, you were never coming back and it was going to be a much harder road if you were not friendly with "The Tonight Show." And B, to have Johnny Carson as a friend, oh my god. That's a tremendous blessing. So I was always nervous about that.

PHILBIN: But, you know, I remember it well. You followed him on your show. You followed "The Tonight Show" with your show. And he admired your show very, very much. He loved all of the different things you were doing. And he would say to our friend Peter Sallis, I'd like to do something like that, too. So one night they tried it.

Something about a candy machine that he was trying to get functioning. Something that you would pull off beautifully, and it flopped. And he never tried it again. But I think, you know, he -- there was a bondship there. But did you have a chance to tell him what he meant to you?

LETTERMAN: All the time. I mean, the first time I was on the show, it was -- yes, all the time.

PHILBIN: Good.

LETTERMAN: And the last time that I saw him, we were talking about it earlier today. Of course, the way life is you don't know that that will be the last time, that it turned out to be the last time. And it couldn't have been a lovelier evening and I cherish that because it was -- it was unusual, it was not going to happen under other circumstances. And it was my wife, myself, Johnny, and his wife on Johnny's yacht that he had anchored in the Hudson. And it was a Friday evening and we sailed off just before sunset. And went up the Hudson up under the George Washington Bridge which is lovely.

Turned around, now the sun is setting. We go out to the Statue of Liberty and see that as night as the sky is darkening. And then you turn around and we headed up the East River, and you see the lower tip of Manhattan. And it was a sight and an experience like you'd never -- you know, you never get to see New York like that.

PHILBIN: No. It really is a terrific sight. I've been up and down those rivers, and -- especially at night it just blazes us.

LETTERMAN: Yes. And he -- he was comfortable and we were chatting. And I knew that I always had -- if the conversation got slow or there was an awkward moment, all I had to do is bring up Jack Benny.

PHILBIN: He loved Jack Benny.

LETTERMAN: He loved Jack.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: And I think owed a great deal to Jack. His delivery and his mannerisms and his humor. And he would just start telling story after story about Jack Benny. So it was a great evening and I'm so proud of that experience. PHILBIN: Sure. PBS had a two-hour special on Johnny. And I saw it that night and I couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. It kept me awake, you know? I mean it was so sad. The end. You know that he would leave us like that. It was just --

LETTERMAN: Right. Well, I remember having that feeling the night he retired. Because it had become such routine not just for me but for everybody in the United States.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: And to see him say good night for the last time, I found it very, very emotional. I have not -- I have not seen the documentary you're talking about.

PHILBIN: And how did you feel when I said good-bye, when I moved on?

LETTERMAN: I was -- I was --

PHILBIN: Same feelings?

LETTERMAN: Honestly, I was puzzled because I thought there's no reason for you to retire. There's no reason for you to leave that show. I misuse the word retire. No reason for you to leave the show.

PHILBIN: Well --

LETTERMAN: And you've got to see about getting a gig here. Because this is ideal for you.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: All right. Now you want to know something? I think you're a pretty good actor. I want to show you a scene from I think the only movie you ever made. "Cabin Boy"?

LETTERMAN: "Cabin Boy", yes.

PHILBIN: With Chris Elliot.

LETTERMAN: Chris Elliot, right.

PHILBIN: Yes. But wait until you see this guy in this scene.

LETTERMAN: "Cabin Boy."

PHILBIN: "Cabin Boy."

LETTERMAN: Would you like to buy a monkey?

PHILBIN: Big hit -- that's it. Wait until you see this. It's Dave the actor. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LETTERMAN: You know what you are? You're one of those little fancy lads, aren't you? Boy, you're cute. Gosh, what a sweet little outfit. Is it your little spring outfit? You couldn't be cuter. You're so adorable. Oh, my. You know, you remind me of my niece Sally. Lovely girl. She's a dietitian. Hey, would you like to buy a monkey?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: Not bad, huh?

LETTERMAN: It was excellent.

PHILBIN: No, you did good.

LETTERMAN: It was excellent. Don't kid yourself. It was fantastic.

PHILBIN: Any aspirations to become an actor?

LETTERMAN: No. You know what? I could be a really bad actor, but I'm so thankful that I never had any interest in it because, one, once you get into it they're long, boring, difficult days. And two, I could never be good at it. And if you're not going to be really good at it, what's the point of wasting everybody's time?

PHILBIN: I did an acting bit in "Hot in Cleveland" recently. Betty White's --

LETTERMAN: Yes, I think I read about that in "The Times."

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: And I had trouble remembering the lines.

LETTERMAN: I know. I know.

PHILBIN: Oh, my god. I'm not used to that.

LETTERMAN: No, I know. It's -- if you don't care about it -- you didn't really care about it. It's just something to do, right?

PHILBIN: I played Pierre, a gay hair stylist. I cared.

LETTERMAN: Yes. I bet you cared.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILBIN: Dave, when we come back, I want to talk to you about the serious side. Everything from your heart surgery to the days that followed 9/11, and you brought television back to America.

LETTERMAN: OK.

PHILBIN: Back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILBIN: You know what I like about you? I like the fact that you do worry about me and my health. You bring it up a lot. You've been terrific to me in pointing out the various doctors I should go to especially in my heart situation. And my hip and all of that. But one day recently within the last couple of years I had an esophagus problem. And I -- I don't know how you found out about it, but you brought it up on the show. And you were trying to help me, I think.

LETTERMAN: Right.

PHILBIN: And then you reflected on an old pal of yours, George Miller, who had something like that.

LETTERMAN: That's right. That's right.

PHILBIN: I want to show that piece of tape.

LETTERMAN: All right.

PHILBIN: This is Dave Letterman and me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: I had a friend of mine.

PHILBIN: Yes?

LETTERMAN: George Miller, and when he was a much younger fellow, he had a narrowing -- and he periodically would have to run a hose -- down his esophagus to open it up. Because he had a narrow --

PHILBIN: Why are you telling me that?

LETTERMAN: I'm just saying.

PHILBIN: You're trying to frighten me.

LETTERMAN: No. No.

PHILBIN: You're trying to frighten me.

LETTERMAN: No. I'm just saying that maybe that's what you'll have --

PHILBIN: Maybe it is.

LETTERMAN: Yes.

PHILBIN: OK. Let it go.

LETTERMAN: All right.

PHILBIN: Put a hose down your throat. I don't want to do that. LETTERMAN: Well, I don't blame you. He -- George didn't want to do it either.

PHILBIN: So is George OK? Is he --

LETTERMAN: Well, no, he's dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: Oh, poor George.

LETTERMAN: It had nothing to do with the tube he had to insert.

PHILBIN: I'm sure. I'm sure.

LETTERMAN: Yes. George was a very funny fellow. A very sweet guy.

PHILBIN: Yes. He was a good comedian.

LETTERMAN: Yes.

PHILBIN: Wasn't he?

LETTERMAN: Yes. I miss George.

PHILBIN: Yes. Now -- but to be more serious about this, you went through a quadruple, wasn't it?

LETTERMAN: Quadruple bypass surgery, yes.

PHILBIN: Yes. Exactly.

LETTERMAN: Yes.

PHILBIN: And then you kind of set me up with the same team to take care of my triple bypass a few years later. But it was so moving the night you came back after a five-week out, staying out there, getting healed, and you brought the entire team with you.

LETTERMAN: Right. Yes.

PHILBIN: A whole bunch of guys. And I rarely see you choked up, but you were that way that night. It was very special. Take a look.

LETTERMAN: Oh, we're going to have more tape.

PHILBIN: Yes. Just more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: It was five weeks ago today that these men and women right here saved my life. And --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: People are applauding.

LETTERMAN: People applauding that I'm not dead. That's encouraging.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: But the point -- that's not the big deal. They do it several times a day. They do it hundreds of times a year. And when you're going through this, you think to yourself, I'm never going to be able to get through this. But you do get through it. And the reason you get through it is because these people get you through it.

If you ever have to have this surgery, by god I hope you're blessed enough to go through it with people like these.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: You went over there and shook each hand, and thanked everybody.

LETTERMAN: And you know, the interesting thing about it, the head guy, Wayne Isom, was not in the theater that night.

PHILBIN: Is that right?

LETTERMAN: He -- he and his family were going to Jamaica. And I said, no, no, you got to -- I'm sorry, we're going to be in Jamaica. If you can get a satellite hooked up, well --

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: And so we fudged the wide shot, Rob Burnett got the guy in the day before he left for Jamaica. And so the wide shot we have a stand in, but then as we go down the line, they dropped in the close-up of Wayne Isom, who was not there that night. But --

PHILBIN: Wow.

LETTERMAN: Vacationing in Jamaica.

PHILBIN: Very impressive.

LETTERMAN: It was very -- it was fraud, it's what it was.

PHILBIN: But you've got the job done.

LETTERMAN: But we got the job done. You do what you need to do.

PHILBIN: And another memorable night was the night you decided -- the day you decided to bring the show back that night, because it's right after 9/11. And television as we knew it was shut down. It was all about the news. And over and over again, we would live through this horrible phase of our lives. Then one day, you called me about 2:00 in the afternoon and said, I'm going back on the air. I'd like you to join me. I was very flattered. And sure enough, you went back. You remember that night?

LETTERMAN: I remember that night and I remember not wanting to go back, not feeling ready to go back, but knowing we had to go back. You know, my concerns were minimal compared to people who really suffered. But I felt like Rudy Giuliani kept saying go back to work people, not to me but generally. We've got to live our lives and we got to go back to work and we can't this and that and this and that and this and that.

So I was trepidatious about it, because I didn't know what to say, didn't know what to do. I knew if you were there, we could make something of that.

PHILBIN: Well, I think we finally did near the end.

LETTERMAN: And poor Dan Rather was on the show.

(CROSS TALK)

PHILBIN: He's as strong and tough as a news reporter could be. He kind of sobbed that night a little bit. But it was the right judgment to make that night. All of television followed your lead and got back something back to normal. I think these are great moments on television.

LETTERMAN: Well, thank you. I -- well, thank you. I don't know what to say beyond that. It -- you know, circumstantial. I was reacting. There was nothing I initiated. It was all me reacting. And it was all, I think, Rudy Giuliani. I mean, wasn't he the light that led everybody through it?

PHILBIN: No doubt about it.

LETTERMAN: I can remember flying back to the City and looking downtown and all you saw were the rising pillars of smoke. And I just thought I can't -- I don't --

PHILBIN: Giuliani was a powerhouse. No doubt about it. But you told a story that night about folks in Montana, this little town, 1,600 people.

LETTERMAN: Yes, 2,600.

PHILBIN: They raised money.

LETTERMAN: Ten thousand dollars to help New York City. I found that touching, because it's a tiny town. It's about the same population they had in 1900. So the population has not grown. It's stayed even. I guess that's saying something.

But it's a very difficult part of the country to make a living if you're in agriculture. The wind blows most of the topsoil, and has for the last several hundred years, dead east. So there's not much to plant. So it's all cattle and that's tough too. You're dependent on the weather.

The fact that these people, who are really serious about eking out a living that way, took it upon themselves to raise money to send to New York City I thought was touching.

PHILBIN: You're absolutely right. It shows the spirit of this country.

LETTERMAN: Yes. And then Montana, I've made some wonderful friends there and I'm proud of them.

PHILBIN: I'm sure you have. Next up --

LETTERMAN: You didn't seem certain. Like how can this guy makes friends? That's what I picked up out of that. Am I being to sensitive? Because here's how it sounded. Yeah, I'm sure you have.

PHILBIN: You understand? This is the real Dave Letterman. This is why you never se him guesting anywhere. He won't do it. Because you're getting to see a little too much tonight.

When you come back, I'd like to talk to you about your life as a father, a husband. Let's do that. Right back in a moment, everybody.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILBIN: Hey, we continue with David Letterman. How do you like it so far? One of a kind. You'll never see this again as long as we live. One of a kind. One night only, one hour only, Regis and Dave.

LETTERMAN: Get ahold of yourself.

PHILBIN: OK. I must say, I think you've changed since little Harry has come into the world and joined you. What do you think?

LETTERMAN: Well, you have to, because life is no longer solely about you. It's about him. And -- but again, I hate to say much about it, because it's like oh, I guess Letterman is the first human to have a child. But that's the way you feel, isn't it?

PHILBIN: Sure.

LETTERMAN: As I'm fond of saying, your life doesn't really begin in the important ways until you've had a child.

PHILBIN: Does he know what you do for a living?

LETTERMAN: No. He --

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: He thinks I have a job in a metal shop. No. He knows what I do.

PHILBIN: Does he like it? Does he laugh? LETTERMAN: Yeah. He likes the animals. We have Jack Hannah come on. He likes Stupid Pet Tricks and stuff like that. He will watch it from time to time if I think there's something that -- we had an English bulldog riding a horse the other day, a little rocking horse. I thought that was cute. Harry enjoyed that. We had another dog skipping rope. He got a kick out of that.

PHILBIN: Oh, good. Is he a momma's boy or daddy's boy?

LETTERMAN: Momma's boy for sure.

PHILBIN: That's great.

LETTERMAN: But it's just great. You know, I'm old enough now where if I see trouble down the road, I'll probably be dead by then. And it'll be his stepfather's problem.

PHILBIN: Dave, you're such a cheerful one tonight. You really are. Let me ask you about the top ten list. How have you been able to do that year after year?

LETTERMAN: Believe me, I'm embarrassed about it as well.

PHILBIN: I mean, the poor writers, the poor segment writers, all of these people struggling to come up with ten funny things a night.

LETTERMAN: I'll tell you this, it came to us many years a night on the old NBC show. A guy named Randy Cohen, I believe, was the writer who proposed that one night we do a top ten list or a top five list. And it was a cheap, easy way to refill a category and get some laughs most nights.

So it was the doing of Randy Cohen, who later had quite a run as -- he was the ethicist in the "New York Times" magazine. So that's the origin of it.

PHILBIN: Is it a chore to come up with those?

LETTERMAN: Not for me. I just -- I'm not even in the building. I'm at home having a facial.

PHILBIN: Wow.

LETTERMAN: Wow says Regis. Again, he's not paying attention.

PHILBIN: How Regina?

LETTERMAN: She's fine. She's fine. She's a lovely woman and she's just fine. She's -- I don't know what to say about her. She -- we -- when you have a kid, you do stuff that the kid wants to do. And about four years ago, Harry and I started skiing. I had never skied before in my life. And he enjoys it and I enjoy it.

So we talk Regina into skiing. I can remember, we're sitting at the table one time and I said, so Harry did you hear? Mom is going to start skiing. He said that'll be great. I'm so excited. Then Regina says, I'm a little worried about this. Harry says, what are you worried about?

Regina says is it slippery? Harry and I laugh so hard, we just -- oh, the snow on the mountain? No. It's the new non-slippery snow. You'll be just fine. So that was good. And then -- so now it's something we al get to do in the wintertime. It's a lot of fun.

PHILBIN: That's great. Every time you say Regina, you must think of Regis.

LETTERMAN: You know, it's very odd that the two people who are the most important to me in my life, you and my wife, have the same name.

PHILBIN: Isn't that nice to hear? Regina and I are very grateful for that.

LETTERMAN: Meaning the king in Latin.

PHILBIN: Latin. Rex is king and Regis is of the king.

LETTERMAN: Right.

PHILBIN: That's good. I'm glad you feel that way.

LETTERMAN: Again, boy, oh, boy, the sincerity there. It's just, yeah, I'll have another scotch. It was about like that.

PHILBIN: It's very hard to do this.

LETTERMAN: It's fun.

PHILBIN: No, no. Listen to me. We've got to go back to the top ten list now. It's just great. We're going to have a little bit from everybody. And do we have Dave doing the top ten? Yes. What has happened to Dave since he became a dad. All right. OK, roll this here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Category tonight, top ten reasons I'm excited to be a father. Maybe you heard about this. I had a baby boy yesterday. And I am a father. Thank you.

Number four, great new excuse for not hanging out with Regis. Number two, two words, Swedish Nanny. And there is now tangible evidence that I have had sex.

There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: Now, not only do you do the top ten, but you have guests come on and do the top ten, whatever the topic strikes you. For example, when I said I was moving on, how is that going to effect Joy. You worried about Joy. Is Joy going to be able to put up with him at home every day and night. So you asked her to come on the show.

LETTERMAN: Oh, I remember that.

PHILBIN: It was very funny. Take a look at Joy in action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Top ten thoughts that we want through my mind when Regis announced his retirement from "Live." Number eight.

JOY PHILBIN, WIFE OF REGIS PHILBIN: If he thinks he's going to be home all day, I better stock up on Advil and Kahlua.

LETTERMAN: Yeah. Yeah. Number three.

J. PHILBIN: If I put him in a wig and a dress, maybe they'll hire him on "The View."

LETTERMAN: Yeah. You're not going to have much trouble getting a dress on him, believe me. Top 10 reasons Regis Philbin is not on the show tonight.

PHILBIN: You know, I never really cared for this show.

LETTERMAN: Number four.

PHILBIN: I'm just not a fan. All right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Okay, fine.

PHILBIN: Have you had a favorite guest over the years besides me?

LETTERMAN: No. We have several. You, Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, people who really come and do a great job for us. I'm forgetting somebody that was just on, it was fantastic. But it's like a handful of people who were really strong, really, really good.

PHILBIN: Nice to hear I'm included.

LETTERMAN: You would be at the top of the list.

PHILBIN: You know that Brian Williams wants your job.

LETTERMAN: Brian Williams can have my job.

PHILBIN: You don't think he's going to do the news for the rest of his life.

LETTERMAN: No, and he can have my job.

PHILBIN: He wants to come out and hear the laughs.

LETTERMAN: He's so good. He's very good.

PHILBIN: You better watch him, Dave. When we come back, let's talk a little bit about politics and late night TV.

LETTERMAN: Let's do it.

PHILBIN: Back.

LETTERMAN: Thank you, Regis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: You know, it's come down to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Mitt Romney, he's fighting this image that he has no personality. And the reason for this, of course, is that he has no personality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: Now, you see, over the years, talk show hosts have not gotten involved in politics. Because they fear --

LETTERMAN: It's all different now.

PHILBIN: -- that if one portion of your audience is a Republican or Democrat, they don't like what you're saying, they're going to tune you out. Doesn't bother you.

LETTERMAN: Well, you -- I know what your point is, and I've been guilty of appearing to be playing partisan politics. However, I'd like to say for the record, I am a registered independent. You go where the material takes you.

Poor Bill Clinton, no president that I'm aware of got hammered harder than Bill -- President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky situation. We beat up on him. We still use him as a reference. And then we were desperate. We thought, well, this was so easy. Then we got George Bush.

And within a matter of days, we realized our prayers had been answered. He's just as good in terms of material. So we -- it may appear to people that we have a slant one way or the other, but you -- if a guy, you know, drops his dog or a guy straps his dog to the roof of his car, or if a guy gets a shoe thrown at him, well, this is where the material is going to be.

And so far, it looks like -- in this race in particular, it looks like -- and the same was true for in the primaries with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. I think if you look back on that, we worked them over pretty good because they were going at it. Then you had this group. I mean, those early debates, I mean, who are these people? The Ringling Brothers?

I mean, it was just hello. So I think that a case could be made, yes, that we are leaning one side to the other, but it's not driven out of anything more serious than who's easier to make fun of.

PHILBIN: It's all about getting the laughs. That's your business.

LETTERMAN: You're desperate when you're out there. You just want to get a laugh. When you hear the first laugh, then you can relax a little bit.

PHILBIN: Well, you have made a lot of fun of me. Oh, yeah. Yes. One night on your show, I was found in an alley next to your show. Remember that night?

LETTERMAN: No.

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: I don't remember.

PHILBIN: Take a look. You'll remember it when you see it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: Guess who Joy and I had dinner with last night? George Clooney.

LETTERMAN: Regis, Regis, it's me, Dave. What are you doing out there?

PHILBIN: Not now, Dave, I'm in the middle of a show.

LETTERMAN: No. No, no. I'm sorry, Regis. You're out -- you're in our alley. I don't think anyone is watching your show.

PHILBIN: Oh, really? No one's watching your show either, big boy! That's not stopping you. Get ready. Let's play Travel Trivia.

LETTERMAN: No, we're not going to play --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILBIN: Oh. Isn't that terrible?

LETTERMAN: No, it was cute. You have been a great sport. And that's one of the things I love about you. You know that we're just horsing around. You know, this is the equivalent of a soapy bear hug.

PHILBIN: Can we talk about that later? How about this? Is this why you gave me this car when I left?

LETTERMAN: You know, that was -- these are so much fun, the Vespa Scooters. They're so much fun. I had no idea that you couldn't ride a two wheeler. What is the problem? You can't ride a bicycle?

PHILBIN: It's not the two wheeler. It's the way you do it. You turn the knob, and bam, you go like that. Regis isn't used tot hat. I fell off and I could sue everybody. (CROSS TALK)

LETTERMAN: Is Regis here tonight?

PHILBIN: Yes.

LETTERMAN: I was wondering. You keep referring to him in the third person.

PHILBIN: I was hurt. I was injured. Lawsuit, CBS, you, Moonves, everybody.

LETTERMAN: You would have been well deserving to do that. It was a horrible mistake. We had to take it from you. Regis, give us the keys. You have heard that before, haven't you?

PHILBIN: You were nice enough -- You took the Vespa back and you gave me a beautiful watch.

LETTERMAN: Are you wearing it now?

PHILBIN: No, I'm not.

LETTERMAN: Oh brother.

PHILBIN: I don't wear anything. He said to me, I hope this doesn't hurt you. Nice watch. Thank you very much.

LETTERMAN: You're quite welcome.

PHILBIN: You know, we're going to come back in a moment --

LETTERMAN: I know we have to wrap things up.

PHILBIN: We close this show with a little segment called Only in America and I want to show you what out contribution is to that in just a moment.

But first, we have to go out singing, as we did that night. That night, when you called me up and I said, there's no business like show business.

LETTERMAN: There's --

PHILBIN: But they're going to do it right here.

LETTERMAN: We're not going to sing?

PHILBIN: If you want to sing, you sing.

LETTERMAN: No. I don't want to sing. You ruin everything.

PHILBIN: Go ahead and roll it, please.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHILBIN: Dave, you'd make me feel better if you'd just sing a couple of lines of "There's No Business Like Show Business" with me. I mean, I'd really sleep better tonight.

(SINGING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILBIN: You know, you'll be happy to know that it's time to say good-bye to everybody.

LETTERMAN: I have had a nice time. Thank you very much. I'm sorry if I bullied my way on to your show. But when you told me you were going to get a chance to do this, I thought, I'd like to be a part of it.

PHILBIN: Let me tell you, I was so flattered and so thankful that you did the show. Because nobody ever sees you guesting anywhere. It's not you. You're a private guy. We understand that.

LETTERMAN: I'm rarely invited anywhere, which is fine. I don't begrudge that fact. It's just the truth of it.

PHILBIN: We have done a lot over the last few years. I have loved every time you had me on the show. There was one time where you gave me a cigar. And we went on top of the Marquee.

LETTERMAN: I remember that.

PHILBIN: Very unusual location, the great Marquee of Dave's Late Show Theater.

LETTERMAN: Were we smoking --

PHILBIN: We were smoking that night. Listen, Dave, I love you. Thank you very much for coming on the show.

LETTERMAN: Thank you very much. It was a lot of fun.

PHILBIN: Thank you, Piers. See you again soon. Bye-bye.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)