Wednesday, December 19, 2012
TV late-night hosts — returning to the air for their first broadcasts since a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. — grappled in their own way with the segue in their opening moments.
“I want the people in Connecticut to know we do not take what you’re going through lightly, and we’re all thinking about you here a lot, all of us, even though we’re at a talk show,” ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday night’s show, choking up.
“My job is to give you a little break from being sad, and I will try my best to do that,” he told his Hollywood studio audience and viewers at home.
CBS’s late-night statesman, and recent Kennedy Center Honors recipient, David Letterman spoke passionately on the subject to his Manhattan studio audience for nearly seven minutes — an eternity on broadcast TV. Delivering the kind of commentary that viewers once got at the end of network evening newscasts, Letterman referenced pages of research on gun violence he had with him at his desk:
“Since 1994, there have been 70 episodes of school shootings — and we don’t have them all here, and we limited it to schools. ... I would have thought one a year would be too many,” he said mournfully.
NBC late-night hosts gave the subject a pass in their Monday monologues, but that network had already confronted the difficult transition, opening “Saturday Night Live” last weekend with a New York children’s choir singing “Silent Night” in lieu of the show’s trademark comedic cold-opener.
TBS’ Conan O’Brien touched on the “insanely mindless tragedy” for only the briefest of moments, before telling his audience that he would skip the traditional opening monologue and instead “do silly and pointless comedy” because “when you think about it, that’s all I’m really good at.” Then he brought out one of his trademark holiday characters, Minty the Candy Cane That Briefly Fell on the Ground.