Why Did David Letterman Refuse To Shake Hands With John Cameron Mitchell?

hedwig1Hedwig creator John Cameron Mitchell has accused David Letterman of a strange snub dating back decades: according to JCM, Letterman refused to shake his hand after he performed on the Late Show. And someone — unclear who — tried to prevent him from removing his wig when he performed “Tear Me Down,” with the implication being that audiences shouldn’t learn that he’s actually a man.

The accusation came during a chat with the audio-video club TimesTalk. According to Mitchell, Rosie O’Donnell was delightfully supportive, but Letterman kept his distance during the October 1, 1998 performance.

Can anyone track down the Late Show episode featuring the Hedwig performance? The internet is scouring its video library, now that the accusation is out, but so far no one has been able to locate a clip.

Also during the event: there was some gossip about the Hedwig sequel, maybe due to hit a (non-Broadway) stage in 2015. And apparently they’d been courting Neil Patrick Harris for the role for four years, just waiting for his TV schedule to work out.

For what it’s worth, NPH visited Letterman last month to talk about the show, and there was no sign of discomfort. Did David really fear an association with JCM? Did he intend to withhold the handshake? It’s hard to say.

But Letterman does have a history with handshake snubs. Back in 1986, when GE bought NBC, David Letterman popped by corporate headquarters to say hello to the new corporate owners. Some guy in a suit twice refused to shake David’s hand, as you can see in the following video:

So the guy knows what it’s like to be denied a handshake. Maybe John Cameron Mitchell can use this common ground to patch up their little misunderstanding.