Top 10 Late Night Talk Show Appearances of the Decade

In the first of what will be Movieline's many investigations into the decade, we inspect the 10 greatest talk show guests of the 2000s. Some of the listed winners were in on the joke, and some were pretty decent jokes themselves. Grow a beard, recall your favorite menu items from prison, and enjoy.

10. Bob Barker on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (December, 2006)

Viewers suspected something was afoot when Bob Barker, who was at that time finishing up his run on The Price is Right, started harassing host Craig Ferguson about the flimsiness of his desk. Little did they know that Barker was a trained martial artist who would actually break the (admittedly styrofoam) desk right on air. The self-effacing jab about "not having that many climactic moments" at his age is also a scream, particularly with Barker's Beauties standing right there.

9. William Shatner and Sarah Palin on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (December, 2009)

I was nervous about putting three 2009 spots on this list (stay tuned!), but Shatner and Palin shocked the hardcover-purchasing populace when they read from each other's autobiographies in this Tonight Show segment. Shatner is also one of Conan's best "In the Year 2000" cue-card readers, and that status helped bumped him onto this list. And can you believe it? Palin is a believable TV personality with a knack for punchlines. Insert your own.


8. Heidi Klum on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (October, 2003)

An appearance from Heidi Klum as she dons an $8 million diamond-studded bra is welcome anyway, but when the current Project Runway doyenne looked down and murmured, "I think my bra has broken," an unprecedented wave of confusion and delight rippled through the audience. Jay and guest Martin Short offered their jackets to cover the supermodel as she made some impromptu adjustments.

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  • SunnydaZe says:

    The final clip is a true master class in passive-aggressiveness.
    It reminds me of when I am at a party and suddenly realize the person I'm talking to just isn't that in to me...
    That's when it gets fun!! The trick is figuring out EXACTLY what is annoying them and KEEP DOING IT just to see how long they will put up with you before moving on.

  • sosgemini says:

    What, no Oprah and Dave reunion?

  • Joh WOods says:

    Wow is letterman cool or what? Wow.

  • Son of Mecha Mummy says:

    Good list, but I would have included Monty Python's Flying Circus (sans Michael Palin and, of course, Graham Chapman) on Jimmy Fallon. It was glorious just for the first three minutes of the interview where the Pythons steadfastly refused to actually let Fallon interview them.

  • Ian says:

    The Joaquin Phoenix interview is truly uncomfortable. He is clearly in a bad place, and the audience are clueless, interrupting what could have been a very interesting interview with inane laughter. The real muppets here are the audience, and, of course, Letterman, whose ego is too huge to try to relate to his guest properly, put the audience in their place and conduct a real interview. Cheap shots seem to be about his level. Who watches this trash??

  • steve says:

    What F'ing Ian Guy?

  • Mario says:

    Dude really? The guy was chewing gum and had about 3 thoughts the entire time. I think the only way this got out of the "staring contest" was due to Letterman's creativity. Sure, the audience was clueless, but really, did they go to Letterman to watch some guys facial hair grow?

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Yeah, if the muppets would just stop interrupting Mr. Letterman with inane laughter maybe he could have been the next Mike Wallace.

  • allue says:

    I agree. I don't understand why he doesn't even try to connect with his guest. Yes, guest, someone he invited to appear on his show. High or not, Joaquin is obviously confused by the whole situation. I don't think he expected to be treated this way by Letterman or the audience, no matter what he looks like. Maybe he forgot the gum when he went on and once Letterman started to make fun of him, he got nervous and just started chewing...
    If he was really high or not present for some other reason, Lettermans people should've noticed and cancelled his appearance. Anyways, an unprofessional display by the Late night folks (including Letterman).

  • F.N. Sihnidall says:

    How'd they forget Cruise as "Couch Destroyer" on Oprah from the list?! The single most amazing moment in TV history. He is so gone.

  • Sean says:

    With every appearance she makes, Palin comes across smarter and smarter. Obama, on the other hand, ...

  • Andrew says:

    Is that a Cosby sweater?

  • Louis Virtel says:

    Unfortunately the Tom Cruise-Oprah incident is not technically a "late night" event, even if you watch Oprah at 3 AM when you can't be seen.

  • Jeff says:

    You know when David Letterman was funny...oh wait...the comedian NEVER achieved status as humorous. He's a dim-witted bully at best, with an accommodating audience to provide peanut-gallery, slack-jawed laughter.

  • JJ says:

    No Drew Barrymore dancing on Letterman's desk???

  • SunnydaZe says:

    BULLSHIT!!! He wasn't invited, his publicist requested he appear. These half-wit celebrities need Letterman much more than he needs them. The best moments of his NBC show often didn't even involve the celebrity guests. (how I miss those moments..)
    Do you think these celebrities live on Mars? That they have no idea what to expect from David Letterman?? And they both were really just playing their celebrity roles and it made for great television. Joaquin and Paris knew this as much as Letterman.
    It seems as if people like you want TV to be as bland and safe as possible which means NO ONE WOULD WATCH...

  • Derek says:

    The Joaquin Phoenix interview wasn't Dave's fault. It came off that Joaquin wanted to convey that awkwardness as a staged event. The fact that he was really just being weird on stage isn't Dave's fault. He had a show to run and keep interesting. The guy clearly had nothing to say and was high.

  • junioriu says:

    This was a staged event. Both actor and host rehearsed this and you dumb fucks bought it. wonder Hollywood is so powerful, you people are drones...

  • SunnydaZe says:

    Well, if you wanna put it that way...

  • varla says:

    Any best-of list that includes 3 appearance by Leno and his band of sycophants must be a put-on, much like the Phoenix-Letterman clip or the guy who thinks Sarah Palin is "smart".
    You denigrate the memory of Mr. Newman by showing a clip of him with Jay Leno. He was much better being lifted into the air on a balloon-powered lounge chair by the Mythbusters guys during one of his appearances on Letterman. Newman and Letterman were actually friends, unlike Newman and that rent-a-hack Jay Leno.

  • To conclude, disagreeing with this brief review to any degree is certainly censorship, that may be normal for your misdefined 19th-century agenda.

  • The Cantankerist says:

    Thing about the Joaquin interview that tips his hand: look at the finish, when he goes to talk to Letterman after the interview. Look at how quickly the sunglasses come off and the manner changes - he slightly blows the "gag", just because it's such a pronounced, visible difference.

  • George says:

    This list is a load of crap...the best talk show guest of all time was and still is Don Rickles !! End of discussion !!!!