Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tom Snyder

The Hill notes the passing of Tom Snyder, iconoclastic host of late night TV who died Sunday at age 71 from leukemia.

Snyder gained fame as the host of NBC's Tomorrow, which from 1973 to 1982 followed Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. The prickly Snyder gained fame as much for his unusual choice of guests as for his interviewing style. Snyder's show was canceled in order to make room for a hot young comic named David Letterman. Letterman, ironically, was a big fan of Snyder's (one can detect a bit of Snyder in Letterman's on-air personality), and invited him to become the first host of CBS' The Late Late Show when it first aired in the early 90's.

For those who may not be familiar with Snyder, the best way to understand what he was about is to watch him in action. This interview with Kiss (Part I and Part II) is a good place to start. Snyder frequently interviewed acts which hadn't quite caught on with the mass audience, as he did with the Clash. Often abrasive, his interview with John Lydon and Keith Levine of Public Image Ltd. (Part I and Part II) showed he could take as well as give. His style changed little over the years, as Howard Stern discovered.

Sadly, there seems to be little place on TV today for a man like Tom Snyder. He will be missed.