Executive producer of the Late Show with David Letterman and Ithaca alum Barbara Gaines talks to Fuse about her experience at IC and the journey that led her to a successful career in television.
In eleven years as a producer on the show, Gaines has garnered 11 Emmy nominations and won five consecutive awards for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program. She is up for another Emmy this year.
My high school guidance counselor told me that I was not college material. And I probably was not. But my mother said she didn’t care what anyone else said; she didn’t want me in the house anymore, so off to Ithaca College I went.
I studied communications. I was a B- student at best. I was lucky to find some wonderful writing professors (my minor) who really took me under their wings (Barbara Adams, Miriam Brody, and Cathy Penner), and I was lucky to have some wonderful friends in Garden Apartment 27-1-7. I graduated in 1979.
I went to California to find my fame and fortune in television … that didn’t work out. I worked on Three’s A Crowd, a Chuck Barris game show. I lasted out there about six months and then came back to New York.
Back in New York, I lived with my parents. Clearly California didn’t work out. My mother made me take an eight-week typing course at Katherine Gibbs and Dale Carnegie’s course on how to make friends and influence people.
I got a job in 1980 on Dave Letterman’s morning show as the receptionist. The show lasted 18 weeks/90 shows … and then was canceled. I then worked on The $50,000 Pyramid game show and an Orange Bowl Parade.
I stayed in my room in my robe.
They graduated me.
I am one of the executive producers of the Late Show with David Letterman. One of my greatest accomplishments was accepting the Emmy Award for the show in 2002.
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Fuse is a student produced publication about the Ithaca College experience. All content in the print and web versions of Fuse is developed by current Ithaca College students in a breadth of different areas of study.