So Long, Mr. Snyder

31 07 2007

by mr. travis

Tom Snyder, the acerbic talk show host who proceeded David Letterman on NBC, with his “Tomorrow Show” passed away yesterday due to complications from leukemia. As a talk show host, his style was original, giving off the air of an actual conversation as opposed to the stiff q & a sessions that so often become the lot of late night t.v. His wit was obvious, his patience thin, but his legacy will live in. In a lot of ways he was the originator of the modern late night style, with Conan O’Brien and John Stewart both owing a large debt to Snyder.

With his trademark cigarette in hand, Snyder led the way in bringing a diverse group to interview, ranging from actors to musicians to convicted murderers. His interview with Kiss was legendary, featuring a drunken Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, while Gene Simmons looked on in disgust. Simmons would later admit that he was so embarrassed by the behavior of his band that it led to the first of Kiss’s many breakups.

Perhaps his most infamous interview was in 1980 with murderer Charles Manson, where Manson goes from calm to madness all in a matter of seconds.

Snyder didn’t shy away from the burgeoning punk and new wave phenomenon, bringing in bands that most talk shows wouldn’t dare have on, only mentioning them in a negative manner.

There was the bloody and toothless Iggy Pop:

The obnoxious John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten):

The great Clash:

And a young Irish band called U2:

Eventually, NBC changed “The Tomorrow Show” to include a co-host, which Snyder obviously disdained, leading to the cancellation of the show to make room for David Letterman in 1982. Snyder would return to a local New York network, before returning to the spotlight on CNBC and as a guest host for Bob Costas on his show “Later,” which led to an ugly face off with Howard Stern in 1991.

When Letterman moved to CBS in 1995, he requested Snyder to follow him with The Late, Late Show (an idea that was a long running joke on Letterman’s show on NBC), where Snyder could be found until 1999 when he relinquished the show to Craig Kilborn. He was semiretired, running the website http://www.colortini.com until 2005 when he posted his last message in July, only months after being diagnosed with leukemia. His last few years were spent in San Francisco after 30 years in Los Angeles. He was 71.

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