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Jeff Simon: Dear Mooch, Dave and Scott ...

I've got a few things to say to some people. So here are open letters to them all:


To Anthony Scaramucci, Monday's Guest on Stephen Colbert's "Late Night...":

Dear Mooch: (Why have a nickname that good if people can't use it?)

Undoubtedly, you've heard from Trumpsters (if not himself ), alt-righters and Breitbartians galore ever since Colbert erupted with the news last week that you'd be sitting to his right on Monday's show.

I imagine they're all calling you a traitor when they're not calling you a dummkopf or a chooch (depending on their ethnic persuasion) or worse.

Stephen Colbert during a taping of “The Late Show” at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York. (Chad Batka/The New York Times)

Don't listen to them. Your instincts are solid gold. You've been telling people for a few days that you should have been told by the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza that he was recording your profane tirade with him over the phone. And you're right; he should have told you he was recording it.

On the other hand, only a dummkopf or a chooch would rant to a reporter on such sensitive subjects without establishing first that it was all off the record. I had the immortal experience many years ago of hearing a profane and wounded telephone rant by furious movie mogul Harvey Weinstein – universally acknowledged to be one the greatest living ranters in contemporary America – who was so inexperienced at the time and so furious at selling so few tickets that he neglected to say to me the magic words "off the record" BEFORE his long abusive rant began. I responded, after high volume raillery of some duration, with as gentlemanly an obscenity as I could muster and a brief polite reiteration of the rules of the "off the record" game in case he had forgotten.

You've undoubtedly been told that Colbert is going to have you for a midnight snack. Don't believe it. He may have goosed his ratings considerably with nightly Trump-bashing but there are going to be limits to how nasty he can be to you in person sitting 18 inches away.

You undoubtedly knew that before agreeing to come on. And judging from Lizza's transcript, you're fluent in the street lingo of obscene New York trash talk – all the Baroque obscenities and putdowns that have turned the arts of scorn and insult into rudimentary education in the five boroughs. I only saw you operate for a couple days but I'd say you've got this, man. Colbert will hit you with all the spritz-plus-research that he can but he's no chooch or dumkmopf. You've one of the biggest "gets" his show has landed in a while. And if he treats you with uncut churlishness, he's the one who will look bad. We expect hosts to act like hosts. It's the guests we expect will get away with a thing or two.

You've got it knocked dude.


To David Letterman, whose return with a six-episode show has been announced by Netflix.

Dear Dave:

I knew it. Even when you decided to take retirement grooming tips from the Duck Dynasty and the Houston Rockets back court, I knew you couldn't stay off TV forever. When Seinfeld had you on his Internet comic's confab you weren't just too bloody funny to sound authentically retired, you sounded too happy to be that way.

David Letterman's still-to-be-named series will launch next year on Netflix. (Tribune News Service)

Comedy is a muscle, like singing. When you've been flexing it nightly for decades, how the devil can you just go cold turkey? No friends or family in the world are going to be patient forever with a comedian who needs to work out a little. Even when his voice was creaking, croaking and cracking on occasion, Frank Sinatra needed to sing. When you've learned the art of breathing during songs so completely, you can't just ditch all that recondite knowledge into the nearest dumpster.

And besides, all those years on NBC and CBS late night required you to be a master of self-deprecation and false stupidity for showbiz' sake. You'd play peekaboo with your actual intelligence but would never reveal so much that you'd scare a network executive or TV audience. On your Netflix shows, the format sounds ideal: long interviews where you can be as smart as any Dick Cavett or Charlie Rose if you want and then some on-the-street prowls to hack around and score some easy "where you from?" comedy club spritz.

Leave it to you to have the perfect "hello again" tagline: "If you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first."


Which brings me to the Buffalo TV anchor who decided to get out of the automobile business and get back to what he does so smoothly at Channel 2.

Dear Scott Levin:

Dude! Of course, you're coming back. Who ever doubted it? You weren't exactly breaking your neck on the job in the first place. Now that you've indicated to one and all how much you needed to be with your family, how could Channel 2 NOT arrange whatever you wanted?

WGRZ anchor Scott Levin is coming back to TV. (WGRZ)

They would have to be crazy to lose you. And you would have to be crazy to get permanently lost. Some of their replacements were dandy. A good sports guy like Adam Benigni can switch chairs with ease, if he's got any talent at all. The opposite isn't true. But let's just revisit your main strength: You're the Perry Como of Buffalo TV anchormen. Whatever work you're actually doing, you make everything look easy. And when your station is so committed to Mary Alice Demler -- who makes everything she does look like a high school principal walking through the halls -- they need you to keep the engine from overheating.

All you had to do was get a whole bunch of elementary management concessions and I'm sure you could spend as much time with your family as they could stand.

If they can't, your family and Dave's might want to assemble a couple times a week in some good old appropriate group therapy.


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