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Letterman then insisted on Snyder despite CBS wanting a younger host with a comedy background and a more traditional late night talk variety format.Snyder would return to CBS to guest-host some episodes of the Late Show while Letterman recuperated from heart surgery in 2000.Longtime late night television producer Peter Lassally was executive producer of Snyder's iteration of the program and mentored Jon Stewart when he was a guest host filling in for Snyder.When Snyder announced he was leaving, the show was reformatted to resemble Letterman and other major late-night talk programs.Snyder's show featured a mix of celebrities, politicians and other newsmakers, but was otherwise quite unlike the program hosted by Letterman.Snyder was a former newsman, not a comedian, and his show featured an intimate interview format with no studio audience present, similar to his old Tomorrow show of the 1970s, or to Charlie Rose show and Later, which had abandoned the format the previous year.The show continued to originate from Studio 58 throughout Kilborn's tenure as host.

For this new theme song, Kilborn would be played to the desk with a chorus of "The Late Late Show is starting".The show differed from most of the other extant late-night talk shows during its first two decades on air in that it did not use a house band or an in-studio announcer.The traditional opening monologue also tended to be different from that of other late night shows tending to avoid jokes with punch lines during Snyder and Ferguson's tenures in favour of a short conversational introduction when Snyder was host and a cold opening featuring either a musical parody, audience interaction, a short sketch or interaction between Ferguson and Geoff Peterson followed by an anecdotal stream of consciousness introduction during most of Ferguson's years.Saxophonist David Sanborn composed and performed the theme music and several other songs featured on the show, all of which were smooth jazz pieces to fit the show's low-key, middle-of-the-night mood.Sanborn had previously been a guest saxophonist in The World's Most Dangerous Band during Late Night with David Letterman.

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