Old Ed Sullivan Theater will be ready for Dave

August 18, 1993|By Verne Gay | Verne Gay,Newsday

The big question along the Great White Way: Will Dave or won't Dave begin his new "Late Show With David Letterman" at the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York Aug. 30?

The answer: It looks like he will.

There has been some recent speculation, both in the TV industry and in the press, that CBS' renovation of the 66-year-old theater has been behind schedule. And if the landmark theater isn't ready, how can the show go on?

A CBS executive in charge of the renovation said Monday, however, that the network will complete the overhaul of the Ed Sullivan Theater at West 53rd and Broadway in Manhattan by the end of this week and -- despite unexpected construction problems -- it will be ready.

"It has turned out to be a bigger job than we expected," said Ed Grebow, a CBS senior vice president. He confirmed that the network had encountered a number of unexpected problems with the theater, which was essentially gutted in preparation for its new tenant.

"There was a lot of hidden damage to the building that I hadn't counted on," he said. "We ended up replacing every pipe and wire in theplace, and there were rats the size of cats in the basement that we had to relocate."

The theater's interior bears some -- but not much -- resemblance to the famous theater that housed "The Ed Sullivan Show" for more than two decades. In the middle of the theater, CBS has constructed a huge facade of fake bricks that will face the audience; there are large windows in the facade that will presumably feature scenes of New York. In addition, CBS has restored all of the ornate terra cotta trim that once encircled the enormous stage. However, some of the original stained glass in the theater has been removed for "safekeeping," said Mr. Grebow.

The theater itself will seat 400 people (twice the size of Mr. Letterman's NBC audience). Most will be in the balcony, while about 100 will sit in the orchestra, which is only a few feet away from the stage where Mr. Letterman will host the show. (CBS kept the original balcony seats, but got new ones for the orchestra.)

Mr. Grebow said that final touches will be added to the set this week; details of the final set remain under wraps, and Mr. Letterman's producers declined to say exactly what it will look like. What is certain is that Mr. Letterman's new digs be a blend of old and new.

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