Jay Leno-David Letterman-Oprah Winfrey Super Bowl ad was Dave's idea, says CBS

Late night fans got the surprise of a lifetime during the second quarter of the Super Bowl tonight when they saw Jay Leno sitting side-by-side with David Letterman in a promo for CBS’ Late Show. Appearing with Oprah Winfrey, Letterman laments about how bad the party is, and Leno retorts “he’s just saying that because I’m here.” Minutes after the spot (embedded below), CBS sent out word that the two late night stars taped the spot last Tuesday at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City. The spot was a revisit, of sorts, to a 2007 Super Bowl spot that featured Letterman and Winfrey. A Late Show spokesman said the spot was Letterman’s idea, and Leno and Winfrey were willing participants.

The promo was all the more surprising given the beating that Leno took last month by his fellow late night competitors over Conan O’Brien’s departure from NBC. Letterman was particularly critical, though he’d just as quickly turn the negative spotlight on himself by reminding everyone that NBC still didn’t want him for the Tonight Show. NBC, in the meantime, now has an uphill battle on its hands in having to promote the new Tonight Show with its old host Leno, though one insider commented that today’s promo certainly makes it a little easier. “It does a lot for all three in the commercial,” said the source.

And it certainly fits nicely with NBC Chairman Jeff Gaspin’s strategy of marketing Leno’s return with “some humor and a wink, not a sledgehammer.” “We will certainly be more subtle,” he told EW last month. “Fortunately the positive side of this public battle is that everybody knows what is going on, so you don’t have to create awareness.  All we have to do is gently remind people when it starts. We’ll have the Olympics as a platform to let people know that Jay will be back on The Tonight Show starting March 1.”

More on the Leno-Letterman-Oprah Super Bowl ad:

EW’s TV critic Ken Tucker reacts to the Letterman-Leno “truce.”
Late Show exec producer Rob Burnett: Inside dish on how the ad came together

Comments (69 total) Add your comment
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  • amanda

    woa. gotta give jay credit for being a good sport (finally…)

    • Q

      I’ll give Jay points for showing up (with Oprah!) but the author didn’t need to point out it was Dave’s idea. It was funny and original. Of course Leno didn’t think it up.

      • Team Dave

        I never comment, but I had to give props to Q. Nice slam.

    • Peter

      Well done Leno! Jay is back!

  • watson

    I have to admit that I was shocked, but I loved it.

    • Muhammad Ali

      Bad move, Dave. You just let ‘em off the ropes.

  • jets

    that cracked me and made me go whaaa?? Oprah tweeted that it was real… Have Jay and Dave ever been in the same room in the last 20 years before?

    great game so far btw.

    check out my novels? :D THX! http://tinyurl.com/ygh3vux http://cameronglenn.wordpress.com/

  • cgriff

    Brilliant for all parties. Makes you wonder how much of the “feud” is legit versus just plain business.

    • leo

      oh its legit. Dave pretty much hates him, but he’s smart enough to see that this would get everyone talking and be another ‘win’ for his camp. Jay was probably thrilled to be in something that wasn’t really bashing him. Dave now has a chance to call in a few favors in the future if needed.

  • Flim

    He didn’t say the game was boring, he said it was the worse superbowl party…

    • La_Dee2003

      On the other hand, you couldn’t say the game was actually EXCITING, could ya?

      • Mike

        The game WAS boring, and then this commercial was probably top 2…wasted 3 hours of my life. This shits only popular still because it’s so institutionalized.

  • Elaine

    That was cute; I was amazed to see them working together!

  • Colin

    Would’ve been a lot better if they could have worked in Coco somehow.

  • kisha

    I came here to see if the spot was legit .Because i was sure it had to be a Letterman joke.

  • sandy sisisky

    Loved the Letterman Leno ad.Good to see something funny!

  • sarah

    That made me actually like Leno…..for a minute. Awesome ad though!

    • Q

      I like how “it made me like Leno” was the downside of the ad. “It was a great ad, except it made Leno seem human.”

  • Andy


  • Meli

    Jaw-dropping moment.

  • jimmyjersey

    I see a pretty boy that needs kissies. Mmm-wah. Can we poop like reindeer’s in Dan Dierdorf’s back yard?

  • Daniel

    That ad did it. All’s forgiven. Team Big Chin!!

  • Derek

    This is why David Letterman is so brilliant!!

    • Beth


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