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Letterman’s retiring at the end of the TV season, but the last few months on The Late Show are proving to be a little more tumultuous than most people might expect. This weekend, CBS announced that it had let go Tony Mendez, the outspoken Late Show staff member who was responsible for Letterman’s cue cards and who occasionally appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman. Mendez was fired after getting into a physical argument with staff writer Bill Scheft.
Here’s how the whole thing went down. According to Mendez himself, he had a bad day in the office earlier this month, getting hot and bothered when Scheft kept interrupting him during his regular duties. He even traded barbs with Letterman, who told him to cool off. But he didn’t cool off. Instead, he became even more agitated about the incident and shoved Scheft into the wall the following day to give him a piece of his mind. Here’s what Mendez had to say to the NY Post.
“I just grabbed him by the shirt. He was very surprised. He didn’t say a word. He was cowering, his eyes were real big, he probably peed a little bit on his pants… I’m the first one to say I should have never put my hands on him, but I never hit him. I just grabbed him and got my face in his face.”
Mendez may say he shouldn’t have pushed the guy, but there’s clearly little love lost between him and Scheft. It seems like the problems on the set have been ongoing for quite some time. Drama behind the scenes rarely crops up in the form of large one-off incidents. Usually there are a few personalities in any given workplace that don’t mesh, and it’s up to the workers themselves to deal with each other and keep things running smoothly, which obviously wasn’t happening this month.
Right after the incident, Mendez was made to leave the building and shortly thereafter Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett announced the longtime employee was fired. CBS’ response to Mendez’s outburst is very in keeping with network standards related to physical incidents of that nature. Mendez is 69 and may be from a different generation, but there’s just no room to shove your co-worker in the entertainment profession, unless you’ve signed a WWE or MMA contract.
Letterman’s show is not going to be on the air for much longer. The veteran late night host announced his retirement some time and ago, and he’s expected to give up the reins in 2015. CBS has wasted no time in finding a replacement either, with Stephen Colbert taking over for Letterman once he officially calls it quits. Now, the employees on The Late Show with David Letterman just need to get through the next few months unscathed so they can move on to their next big adventure.