Inside the Confusing Origins of David Letterman's Top Ten List

letterman_toptenThe following excerpt is reprinted with permission from Brian Abrams's new book AND NOW…An Oral History of "Late Night with David Letterman," 1982-1983, which is currently available to purchase at Amazon Kindle Singles.

By the summer of 1985, head writer Steve O’Donnell was no longer scouring for new personnel to come up with remote concepts and “Viewer Mail” pieces. (Monologue material stayed plentiful, as staffer Gerry Mulligan continued to oversee that part of the show.) Including co-creators Merrill Markoe and David Letterman, 13 individuals populated the writers’ room, and submissions from prospective writers continued to stack high on O’Donnell’s desk. An unassuming 23-year-old Tufts University grad named Rob Burnett wangled an internship in the talent department. And, at 30 Rock, the days of finding bored New Yorkers to fill up Studio 6A’s 200 or so seats at 5 p.m. tapings were ancient history.

But of all of Late Night’s much adored ironic obsessions that transformed comedy forever and enabled a generation of writers and comedians to flourish, there is one recurring bit that to this day has multiple writers claiming credit for its creation: The “Top Ten.” READ MORE


Jon Lovitz Comes to Twitter, Can't Get Himself Verified

I"m at 79 followers… going for a billion… that's right!!! A billion!!! Anyone with connections to China????less than a minute ago via web

Pre-Internet icons made incredible breakthroughs on Twitter in the last month, most notably Charlie Sheen's garnering one million followers in record time and Howard Stern doing a running Private Parts commentary during a random afternoon airing on HBO (inspiring television execs to reconsider strategies for the nano-medium altogether). It seems that more over-the-hill celebs are feeling less intimidated by the online frenzy and are beginning to tweet — even Jon Lovitz who, in his typically schlemazel fashion, can't get verified.

But it definitely is Lovitz behind the smartphone. The Jon Lovitz Comedy Club's Gabriela Zamora corroborated with me in an email that @realjonlovitz "is in fact Jon Lovitz' personal Twitter account." Also, this Twitter user claimed to have met Lovitz "at a hot dog stand" where the SNL alum confirmed his account, so, you know, that's some irrefutable evidence.