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100 TV Shows-#18 Later with Bob Costas

Later With Bob Costas




Not to be confused with LATER with Jools Holland

Or for that matter, anyone who hosted the show after Bob left in 1994. Much as I loved Greg Kinnear in his Talk Soup days, this show was ALWAYS about Bob, as far as I was concerned.

Not quite as sedate or high-minded as Booknotes, but still basically two people, no audience and a genuine conversation. Bob could be fawning when the guest deserved it, but was perfectly capable of asking tough questions even of one of his heroes.

The Pete Rose interview was both painful and brilliant, as Bob both acknowledged Pete's status as a baseball legend and someone who had been personally warm and kind to Bob and then proceeded to calmly and methodically call him out on his bullshit. Bob even referred to his own father, a gambling addict who he said would bet on which of two cockroaches would get across as floor first, to make the case that if Pete was a gambling addict than he his claim that he never bet on baseball was nearly impossible to believe.

My love for the show goes back to my days as a practicing insomniac, which is how I must have caught it in the first place. The first episode I remember was the interview with James Woods. This was before Mr. Woods went all weird and became a right wing prick. He was funny, engaging, clearly the kind of guy who made Salvador with Oliver Stone was on the same side of the political fence with him. After telling great stories about working with Meryl Street and Barbara Streisand and just being all sorts of cool, he cemented his awesomeness, and the shows, but giving Bob shit about the length of his tie and proceeded to give it what Bob referred to as "a circumcision" on camera.

At the end of the 2nd part of the interview, he continued this, calling it the "the John Dillinger of ties."

This interview caused me to go all gaga for James Woods and see every movie he had ever made, which lasted through the first five epiosdes of Shark and then I found out about the Right Wing Nutso thing and gave up on Mr. Woods and anything he will ever be in again.

What's weird is some of my other favorite Later interviews are with people who've been on the same trajectory, such as Dennis Miller and Imus. Watch Dennis talking with Bob in 1992, and it's almost impossible to believe it's the same guy who sold his soul to fixed noise.

The Imus interview was a classic for Bob basically revealing how much he hated doing NFL Live on NBC. I think he only did it so that NBC would let him do the baseball, which is always clearly his great love. Also, again, Imus then was so NOT the cretin of the last few years. What happened to these people?

I got Hubby into watching the show. This must go back to when he was in nursing school and still doing sitters at night, so we'd tape the show and watch together on the weekends. Even if it was someone we'd never heard of (rare) Bob would make it interesting and when it was someone we were familiar with, Bob would ask the question you always wanted know.

He's not aging super well right now, but at the time I had a massive crush on Bob and incorporated him into whatever self-insert original fic I was writing at the time.

Booknotes ran from 1989 to 2004 and Bob Costas hosted Later from 1988-1994. So that was sort of a mini-golden age of intelligent conversation on TV and the good old-fashioned VCR to preserve it with. And of course, even if I still had those tapes what good would they do me. :(

Anyway, I still miss Bob saying, "See ya, Later."

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