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About (Late) Last Night: A tale of two Biebers [Video]

February 1, 2011 |  8:28 am


Teen dream Justin Bieber is on a promotional blitz this week in support of his upcoming documentary, "Never Say Never." There was the Vanity Fair cover story, a lengthy appearance on "The Tonight Show" on Friday, and Monday night, a sit-down with David Letterman on "The Late Show." Leno may have devoted more time -- three whole segments! -- to Bieber, but Letterman's sensibility was a better match for the Canadian heartthrob. 

Leno has a grating habit of being "just one of the guys" in his interviews -- cracking jokes about nagging wives and so on -- while Letterman has a different shtick. At 63, he's not exactly young, but Letterman has long played the role of the old fogey, feigning befuddlement at the youthful whimsy of whatever guest happens to be appearing on his show. Bieber, a meticulously coiffed 16-year-old saccharin pop singer propelled to fame via Twitter, is an ideal foil for the easily bemused host.

Monday night, Letterman asked Bieber the obligatory question every heartthrob must answer: What's it like being followed by a horde of screaming girls everywhere you go?

"It's funny because, like, I try to go, like, walk in and there's a bunch of people outside just waiting," Bieber answered.

Letterman could not relate. "That's never happened to me. That has never happened." Just to emphasize the generational gulf a bit more, he then asked Bieber, "Do you use the Twitter device to update your activities?"

"Yeah, I do. I was thinking, do you want me to Twitter you?" the singer proposed. Considering he's got close to 7 million followers, that's actually quite a generous offer. (Side note: Do you think Bieber offers up free tweets up in lieu of Christmas presents?) Letterman didn't quite know what to make of it all -- or so he pretended.

"Like 'late-underscore-show'?" asked Bieber, trying to determine the show's Twitter handle. 

"It's 'The Late Show.' I'm Dave," was his deadpan reply. "Now, did you do it already? What'd you say?"

"I just said, 'I'm hanging out with my boy, Dave.''

Letterman cackled.

It was the kind of gently amusing repartee at which the host excels. He plays the role of the old fuddy-duddy, both charmed and confused by his guests. Compare that, if you will, with Bieber's appearance on "The Tonight Show" from Friday night. Leno often comes off as the "dad who thinks he's cool" (even if he isn't actually a father), in contrast to Letterman's "lovably cranky uncle" routine.

Bieber's appearance on Friday night was a prime example of this unfortunate tendency. Leno asked Bieber about attending the Golden Globes. "I met Angelina Jolie," he said, grinning lasciviously. (Brad, watch out!) He also met Hailee Steinfeld, the adorable Oscar-nominated star of "True Grit."

"So what did you think? She's kinda cute," Leno asked. 

Bieber wouldn't take the bait. "I think she's ... cute," he shrugged.

Leno continued to pry, "And that's as far as it goes?"  Apparently so. Bieber declared that Steinfeld, who's 15, was too young for him. Apparently, Justin Bieber has a thing for older women. 

Leno's interest in the teen's love life was either creepy or just a blatant grab for Web hits. In either case, let's be honest: Bieber's millions of adoring fans don't really care who's asking the questions. 


 -- Meredith Blake