By ADAM BUCKMAN
NEW YORK, Jan. 20, 2010 — Jay Leno’s former announcer, Edd Hall, insists he’s not carrying any grudges against Leno and NBC.
But he doesn’t exactly feel warm toward them either, Hall indicated in his first interview today (1/20/10) since he lent his voice to a David Letterman comedy bit that skewered Leno on Letterman’s “Late Show” Tuesday night.
In the bit — a 30-second parody promo spot ballyhooing Leno’s return to “The Tonight Show” — Hall’s exuberant announcer’s voice was heard reciting copy that accused Leno of stealing comedy bits from Letterman and Howard Stern.
“Hey, late-night fans!” Hall announced, as videotape and still pictures of Leno and “Tonight Show” bandleader Kevin Eubanks were shown on screen. “In just a few short weeks, Jay Leno will be back where he belongs as host of ‘The Tonight Show,’ and all your favorite elements of Jay’s ‘Tonight Show’ will be back! The phony handshakes! The guy with the guitar [Eubanks] who laughs at everything! The bit [Leno] stole from Letterman’s ‘Late Night’ show! [Headlines from small-town newspapers are shown.] The bit [Leno] stole from Howard Stern! [‘Jay Walking’ image is shown.] The announcer he stole from Howard Stern! [Photo of John Melendez is shown.]”
The bit ended with Hall voicing the words for which he became famous when he was Leno’s announcer for Leno’s first 12 years on “Tonight”: “And me, I’m Edd Hall!”
In a phone interview from California today, Hall pointed out that he started his career as an NBC page in New York in 1979 and several years later, wound up working for “Late Night with David Letterman” as a graphics producer and occasional announcer for comedy bits, which is how he came to be hired for “The Tonight Show” when Leno took the show over from Johnny Carson.
Hall said he maintains close ties with friends in both the Leno and Letterman camps, though his sentiments seem to lean closer to the Letterman side these days.
“I like both of these guys,” Hall said. “But look, NBC has made plenty of, shall we say, unusual decisions regarding late-night, and frankly, replacing me with John Melendez was one of them, so . . . I don’t feel the allegiance to Jay that I once did and I never left on bad terms with Letterman.”
Hall said he received a phone call from a Letterman producer at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday (Pacific time) to ask Hall if he would record a voiceover for that night’s show in about an hour. Hall said yes, recording the voiceover locally (the rest of Tuesday night’s promo bit was produced in New York).
“It wasn’t a conscious decision to, you know, ‘Ooh, I’m gonna get Jay tonight with this one’,” Hall said. “I had no problem with it. It’s comedy.”
He reported that no one from the Leno show has contacted him to ask why he agreed to play a minor, but supporting role in Letterman’s stepped-up attacks against Leno.
“I have not [heard from Leno],” Hall said, struggling to explain his relationship with Leno and his producers and writers. “[It’s] not that I left on any bad terms, but . . . they haven’t called me to do comedy bits.”
Hall said he’s done a number of such bits for Letterman’s people over the last few years, although this one, which was pretty pointed in its criticism of Leno and aired in the midst of the current storm roiling late-night TV, has attracted more attention for Hall than any of the others. He revealed that he even did another one recently that is also related to the ongoing drama in late-night that has not aired yet. He doesn’t know if it ever will.
“The thing is with these monologue bits is that they record about 15 or 20 of them and two air,” Hall explained. “I’ve done a lot of them for them before that haven’t aired.”
The one that has not yet aired got Hall prepared for the second one. Said he, “The idea was that they wanted a ‘Tonight Show’ announcer to do it, and so I knew what this was all about.”
Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com