Alec Baldwin, Laura Osnes, Liev Schreiber, Bonnie Raitt and More Took Part in Kennedy Center Honors; Details Revealed

By Andrew Gans
04 Dec 2012

David Letterman
Multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress and comedienne Tina Fey took the stage to talk about multiple Emmy Award winner David Letterman, remarking, “Mr. David Letterman, as I call him out of respect and fear, has unknowingly been a family friend of mine since I was 10 years old. My mom Jeanne and I spent every weekday morning of the summer of 1980 watching ‘The David Letterman Show.’ While some kids went canoeing and learned sailor knots at camp, I spent that summer drinking Pathmark instant iced tea and watching my mom laugh at Dave. I can’t tell you how happy the show made her. It was like she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. There was actually a daytime show that made her laugh. Amid a sea of saccharine talk shows and idiotic soap operas was this weirdly floating gem. Was this Dave Letterman guy a brilliant, subtle, passive-aggressive parody of a talk show host? Or just a Midwestern goon who was a little bit “off?” Well, here we are, 32 years later, and time has proven… that there’s really no way of knowing.”

Fey continued, “Dave is someone you watch not just because you like him, but also because you hope that he would like you. You think to yourself, ‘Dave would like me. He’d be able to tell that I ‘get it.’ But it really is a crapshoot, because one of the most entertaining things about ‘Late Night’ and ‘The Late Show’ is that Mr. Letterman doesn’t fake-like everyone. In fact, you could argue that Mr. Letterman is at his best when he’s interviewing someone whom, maybe, he doesn’t like at all. Whether it’s calling Bill O’Reilly a bonehead, or asking Paris Hilton about eating hard-boiled eggs in jail…or just sitting back and letting Madonna be a high-status dumb-dumb. David Letterman is the professor emeritus at the ‘Here’s Some More Rope’ Institute. Weirdly or not weirdly, Mr. Letterman is the closest thing we have to a present-day Walter Cronkite. His honesty and intelligence have shepherded us through national crises. Our concern for his health has been a national worry. Our imaginary friendship with him has been going on now for 32 years. Tonight, we declare it officially: my mom was right, David Letterman is an American treasure, like the Grand Canyon, or the Chicago skyline, or the top two Kardashians.”

Alec Baldwin
photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Next, multiple Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Alec Baldwin said, “Watching the ‘Late Show with David Letterman’ is like being on a roller coaster. It’s exhilarating. It’s also dangerous, scary, and makes you sweat… and that’s just the viewers. Imagine what it’s like for those of us who are guests of the show. Dave’s so clever, witty and powerful… how can you keep up with him? Why do we do it, then? Besides being artists with all the attendant self-loathing masochism, there’s that movie or book or TV show we’re promoting. Second, it’s David Letterman! It’s like the Kennedy Center Honors of late night TV. There’s just no one better than Dave. There’s never been anyone better. You just have to be around the guy. We know he has fun at our expense. We wanted to cook something up to turn the tables on him. Something that would get him out of his comfort zone. Something that would make him squirm… something he’d hate. So tonight we’re giving him the Kennedy Center Honor. It’s perfect. First, Dave, who can barely stand traveling from his home to the studio, will have to travel all the way from New York City to Washington, D.C. – a journey of over 200 miles in a private jet! Have him sit in a box and watch artists perform for two full hours! Put him in a big room full of people he doesn’t know. Don’t let him say anything! Make him wear a tux! With plain old black socks!” Then, Baldwin proceeded to present the hilarious list of “Top Ten Reasons That David Letterman Is Getting A Kennedy Center Honor.”

Emmy Award-winning comedian Jimmy Kimmel next spoke of Letterman as one of his idols. “When I turned 16, I blew out the candles on a “Late Night with David Letterman” cake; my first car had a L8NITE vanity plate; I drew pictures of Dave on the cover of all of my textbooks; I started a ‘Late Night with David Letterman’ club in high school… to me, it wasn’t just a TV show. …I don’t remember the first time I watched Dave’s show, but I do remember the feeling I got when I found it. It was as if someone was doing a show specifically for me. I had never seen anything like it. Dave was funny in a way I’d never seen anyone be funny before. I stayed up until 1:30 AM every single night to watch him. I wanted to be David Letterman. All my friends wanted to be David Letterman. Ironically, the only person who didn’t want to be David Letterman – is David Letterman. And that’s a shame because you, Dave, are the funniest, the smartest, the weirdest, the coolest, the best one ever. Not only did I learn how to do… everything from Dave – the reason I have a show of my own is because the executives at ABC saw me when I was a guest on his show.”

Multiple Emmy Award winner and Golden Globe-nominated actor and comedian Ray Romano, who got his start as a comedian and actor through the help of David Letterman, said, “Being on Letterman was like winning the World Series. If you wanna win the World Series, do you quit if you lose the first game? No. You’re down one game to zero you don’t quit, you keep going. Do you quit when you’re down 1-0 in debates? No. You keep going and you become the President of the United States,” gesturing to President Obama. He then continued, “I remember the next morning, I was in my house with my wife in Queens, and I sat there at the breakfast table and I was like, ‘That was… awesome. What do I do now?’ …I sometimes wonder where I would be if I hadn’t been on David Letterman’s show. I would still be doing stand-up, because it’s what I love. I’m sure I’d be on the road working. Every now and then I’d have to do Kimmel. It would be okay, I guess. But I know one thing; I’d still be trying to get on. I wouldn’t give up. And that’s what somebody as good as Dave does. In any profession, you need someone like Dave to make you want to be better.”