If you thought the bad blood between Jay Leno and David Letterman would keep the two late-night stalwarts in separate rooms for the rest of their lives, think again: The constantly-clashing duo teamed up — along with Oprah Winfrey — for a Super Bowl commercial plugging Dave’s show. The surprise factor (and sheer awkwardness) of the spot made it one of the night’s most memorable.
The ad, which was a reprise of a 2007 ad that Letterman did with Winfrey, was meant to poke fun at the recent tension between Jay and Dave sparked by the ‘Tonight Show’ battle that eventually led to Conan O’Brien leaving NBC.
In the commercial, a disgruntled Letterman declares that he’s at “the worst Super Bowl party ever.” Seconds later, the camera pans away to reveal Leno, who admits that Dave “is just saying that because I’m here.”
Letterman and Leno did in fact both film the commercial together, as Oprah Winfrey tweeted seconds after the ad ran that it was shot this week at the Ed Sullivan Theater with all three in attendance.
So, how did this happen? According to Rob Burnett, who produces Dave’s ‘Late Show,’ it was all Letterman’s idea.
“Dave had this idea, ‘What about getting Jay and Oprah together with me?’ and he wrote it,” Burnett explained in an interview with the Associated Press Sunday night. “We said, ‘This is too funny to pass up.’ First we called Oprah.”
Arrangements were quickly made for Leno and Winfrey to fly to New York and much detail was given to getting them inside the Ed Sullivan Theater unnoticed.
“We really wanted to keep this under wraps,” he said. “There were a lot of internal logistical conversations about how to even get Jay and Oprah into our building secretly.”
Filming took place last Tuesday. Leno arrived while Letterman was taping his show. He was disguised in a hooded sweatshirt, dark glasses and a fake mustache. No joke. Filming took less than a half-hour, Burnett said.
“It was quick, it was easy,” he said. “The attitude was professional and cordial. Dave and Jay were fine with each other.”