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from Tales from the Trail:

Mitt Romney’s Late Show Top 10 Redux

It was like deja vu with Mitt Romney when the Republican presidential candidate presented the "Top Ten" list on the "Late Show with David Letterman" Monday night.

The script was different, and so were the clothes -- but Romney's latest late night TV performance looked and sounded a lot like the the previous one he gave  back in February.

This time, the former Massachusetts governor revealed the “Top Ten Things Mitt Romney Would Like to Say to the American People.”

Here's the list (in reverse order):

    - "Isn't it time for a president who looks like a 1970s game show host?"
    - "What's up gangstas... it's the M-I double-tizzle
    - "I have no proof, but I have a feeling Canada is planning something"
    - "Actually I'm only here to meet Tom Cruise"
    - "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night"
    - "My new cologne is now at Macy's. It's Mitt-stified"
    - “I just used all my campaign money to buy a zoo with Matt Damon”
    - “I can do a lot, but even I can’t fix the Indianapolis Colts”
    - “Newt Gingrich? Really?”
    - "It's a hairpiece"

Romney's first star turn as Top Ten reader was on Feb. 1.  It was a presentation of  the “Top Ten Things You Don’t Know About Mitt Romney.”

from Tales from the Trail:

Perry does Letterman’s “Top Ten” excuses for gaffe

Texas Governor Rick Perry wrapped up his apology, explanation, damage control (take your pick) tour where it started -- on TV with an appearance on David Letterman's "Late Show."

Instead of sitting in the guest seat, the Republican presidential hopeful stood center stage presenting the "Top Ten Rick Perry Excuses" for an embarrassing 53-second brain freeze live on national TV at the Michigan debate.

from Fan Fare:

VP Joe Biden to visit Jay Leno on Friday

Days after it was revealed that "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" posted its lowest-rated second-quarter since rival talk show "The Late Show with David Letterman" launched on CBS in 1993, NBC is looking to the Obama administration for help.

bidenThe network said on Tuesday that Vice President Joe Biden would stop by Leno's show for the third time on Friday. Biden first visited the Burbank set in March 2007, as a U.S. senator. He returned in October 2008, as a vice presidential nominee.

from Tales from the Trail:

A lighter way to follow volcanic ash

It almost seems like a case of adding insult to injury, but the volcanic ash that is wreaking havoc over European airspace has started tweeting. ICELAND-VOLCANO/

And, while trying not to take it personally, @theashcloud has amassed more followers than some of us who have been on Twitter for some time.

from Fan Fare:

Late night gets political as Leno, O’Brien and Letterman look to the future

Conan O'Brien's departure from NBC's was ugly from the start, but now that it's over, and Jay Leno is about to reclaim "The Tonight Show," who has come out looking like the bad guy?Jay Leno
This is important because if Leno and O'Brien end up competing against each other in the same time slot (with O'Brien on Fox or another network), how the public views each of them could affect their ratings.
Leno himself has acknowledged he has been getting bad press as a result of the shakeup, with fellow talk show hosts David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Rosie O'Donnell accusing him of pushing out O'Brien.
But judging by a poll of 65,000 respondents at celebrity website PopEater, the controversy doesn't seem to have hurt Leno that much.
Forty-four percent of respondents said they would watch Leno over O'Brien if the two were to go head-to-head in the 11:35 p.m. time slot, with only 33 percent opting for O'Brien.
Leno enjoys the advantage of having reigned as the top-rated late night talk show host from 1995 until he gave up "The Tonight Show" in May 2009. After he left, David Letterman's "Late Show" on CBS climbed to the top of the heap.
Can Leno reclaim some of those viewers from Letterman when he returns to "The Tonight Show"? Letterman has launched a nasty campaign against Leno, mocking him every chance he gets on his show.
Meanwhile, Leno has tried to take the high road, calling O'Brien a "great guy" during his show Monday. But of late he has fired back at Letterman during his monologues.
With Letterman "going negative," and Leno having given what amounted to a speech on Monday with his side of the story, this late night war has turned into something like a political campaign.
For his part, O'Brien has ravaged NBC during his monologues, and he has never returned Leno's favor by also calling him a "great guy."
Conan O'BrienDespite the hipster "I'm with Coco" campaign that has emerged, especially online, in support of O'Brien, his $32.5 million payout may hurt his image.
True, we are in the age of corporate executives getting away with million dollar bonuses after their own failures, and Conan has scored sympathy for securing money for his staff.
But wouldn't we all like to walk away with say, $30 million, after seven months of poor ratings, weak reviews and (to use one of O'Brien's jokes) not even a new haircut?
In a PopEater poll, only 28 percent of respondents said they feel sorry for O'Brien now that he has received his huge payout, and 38 percent said they never did.
With none of the talk show hosts seeming to have a monopoly on public sympathy, they may want all want to work harder on their campaign skills, because this new age for the talk show arena looks to be as cut-throat as ever.

(Additional writing by Christine Kearney)

from Fan Fare:

Top 5 late-night jokes about Conan and Jay

LenoOn Thursday, NBC and Conan O'Brien finally reached a deal that will see him leave "The Tonight Show," which won't end all the late-night jokes about the debacle but may well put a damper on them -- at least from O'Brien himself since his last show is Friday. It's been an entertaining couple weeks that gave Jay Leno, O'Brien and other comics plenty of material. Here are what we believe to be the Top 5 comic segments that have come out of the controversy, with video below. For the handful out there not in the know, Leno is poised to reclaim his job hosting "The Tonight Show" in a move that will bump out O'Brien. 1. On Jan. 12, Jimmy Kimmel impersonated Leno during his own late-night show on ABC, showing up with a big prosthetic chin and gray hair to look just like the NBC veteran. "Hello, my name is Jay Leno. And let it hereby be known that I'm taking over all the shows in late-night," Kimmel said. Later on, comedian Chevy Chase came out dressed like O'Brien for more yuks. 2.  Later in the week, Kimmel appeared via satellite feed on "The Jay Leno Show,"  in an awkward interview led by none other than Leno himself. During the interview, Kimmel was asked what was the best prank he ever pulled. His response told little about himself, but more about the recent history of Leno and O'Brien, at least from Kimmel's jaded perspective. Kimmel said, "I told a guy that 'five years from now, I'm going to give you my show.' And then I took it back almost instantly. I think he works at Fox or something now." To that, Leno just laughed and moved on to the next question. 3. On the "Late Show" on Jan. 13, David Letterman gave his "Top 10 Messages Left on Jeff Zucker's Voice Mail." Of course, Zucker is the head of NBC Universal, and the executive at the center of the controversy over Leno and O'Brien.  Some of the jokes on Letterman's list of supposed phone messages on Zucker's answering machine were, "What the hell are you doing?" "Hi, it's Burt Reynolds. Just so you know I'm available" and "What the Zuck?"O'Brien 4. Conan O'Brien subjected NBC to plenty of biting sarcasm on his show, but perhaps the funniest joke came on Tuesday, when he said that even though NBC is reportedly muzzling him, "nobody said anything about speaking in Spanish." O'Brien went on to say in the romance language, "NBC is run by brainless sons of goats who eat money and crap trouble." 5. Jay Leno weighed in on the controversy from the stage of his show on Jan. 16, saying "I'm getting beat up in the press ... you know it's bad when Tiger Woods calls to offer PR advice." Then he added, "Even Dave Letterman is taking shots at me, usually he's just taking shots at interns." That last one, of course, was a reference to Letterman's admitted sexual liaisons with members of his staff. With zingers like that, things got ugly fast in this latest full contact flare-up in late night television. What would Johnny Carson think?

from Fan Fare:

Conan debacle inspires comic digs galore

c3It has become a battle of who can win the most sharp-tongued digs.

Conan O’Brien’s statement released two days ago that he will not be bullied by NBC back into a later timeslot has sparked a competition over which late night host can squeeze in as many quick fire NBC slaps in their opening monologue as possible.

 On Wednesday night O’Brien was more combative in his comedic tone than the previous night, in a message directed to “the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.”

from Left field:

Woods takes first step on road to redemption

Slug is GOLF-CHAMPIONS/By Kevin Fylan and Tom Pilcher

Tiger Woods's decision to take an indefinite break from golf will be a real worry for a sport that has relied on the drawing power of the world's best player for so long but it might prove to be a necessary first step on the player's own road to redemption.

"He'll figure it out -- we've always been a forgiving society," major record holder Jack Nicklaus said before Woods announced his decision to take a break.

from Tales from the Trail:

Palin’s financial disclosure: $1.25 mln advance for “Going Rogue”

The following is reported by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage, Alaska.

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin got a $1.25 million advance from HarperCollins for her soon-to-be-released memoir "Going Rogue."

PALIN/Palin listed the advance, which she received while still governor, in the 2009 financial disclosure form filed Monday with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. See the form on The Anchorage Daily News Web site.

from Tales from the Trail:

The First Draft: David Letterman and the Dalai Lama

CANADA/This is one of those Washington days that seems to defy a theme. Consider:

Iran is the topic at the Senate Banking Committee, where officials from the State and Treasury departments are set to testify on economic sanctions against Tehran.

Afghanistan is expected to be front and center when President Barack Obama briefs congressional leaders about his Afghan strategy.