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David Letterman Talks About Bombing As Oscars Host 25 Years Ago

David Letterman Talks Bombing His Oscars Hosting Gig 25 Years Ago
January 29, 2020 - 00:37 / Hayley Paskevich

For the first time since it happened back in 1995, David Letterman publicly reflected on one of the most embarrassing moments in his career. See what he had to say about his experience hosting the Oscars that year...

David Letterman is opening up about his past gig as host of the 67th Academy Awards... and being completely candid about how it went over. In an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Letterman is brutally honest when it comes to reflecting on the night he refers to as "the single biggest professional embarrassment of my life".

His turn at playing host for the awards ceremony was met with ridicule, widely panned by critics. The New York Times headline that ran the following day even read "The Winner Isn't David Letterman".

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Host David Letterman and actor Tom Hanks watch Sadie the dog perform a stupid pet trick during the 67th Annual Academy Awards, March 27, 1995.

David Letterman's Oscars flop: what went so wrong?

Letterman reveals that he'd hesitated about even initially agreeing to sign on to host the Oscars, having felt way out of his depth after seeing Billy Crystal's turn hosting a couple years prior. "And I started to get scared realizing, maybe I don’t belong here", he admits in The Hollywood Reporter exclusive. 

Even though he had previously taken on hosting duties for the Emmys alongside Shelley Long nine years prior, he wasn't keen on the idea. And when it came time for him to take the stage on the night of the Academy Awards, the usually funny late night host's material completely fell flat. 

Letterman's "Oprah-Uma": an uh-oh of an opener

Letterman opened with an attempt at humour involving some stars with unusual names. In the infamous bit that has now become known as "Oprah-Uma", he said, "I’ve been dying to do something all day and I think maybe we can take care of it,” before awkwardly attempting to "introduce" Oprah Winfrey and Uma Thurman to one another. He then also offhandedly mentioned Keanu Reeves. Watch the moment here:

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Despite the fact the initial joke didn't land well, Letterman then attempted to resuscitate it several more times, which led to his monologue feeling desperate and all over the place.

David Letterman was asked to host again... and declined

Letterman said that following what he himself referred to as the "explosion of excrement" that was his turn as Oscars host, he was actually asked to host the prestigious awards show again... several times! Not wanting a repeat performance of his 1995 bombing, Letterman turned down the offer.

Fortunately, he did end up getting a little bit of redemption the following year with the help of another host! "Billy Crystal followed the next year and was kind enough to include a bit of comedy with me that allowed me to kind of knock the ugliness off the event — it was a reference to Oprah-Uma, and I think it went pretty well," he acknowledged.