‘Late Night’s’ Got Dave but Not the Viewers

What a difference a month makes. On Feb. 21, nearly 12 million people tuned in to see “Late Show” host David Letterman’s return from quintuple bypass surgery. No doubt far fewer will tune in at 11:35 tonight, when Letterman’s guests will be Rosie Perez and Robert Klein. CBS, in fact, hasn’t done much to trumpet the fact that tonight marks Letterman’s first full week back in “The Late Show” chair. “Late Show” executive producer Rob Burnett, who made Dave updates a daily media ritual during Letterman’s recovery, is now unavailable for comment, off working on an NBC drama-comedy pilot, “Stuckeyville,” a show from Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants. Hard-core Letterman fans can rejoice that Kathie Lee Gifford isn’t on the books for more co-hosting work, though a “Late Show” spokeswoman said Letterman is taking a wait-and-see approach on his fitness to serve as host full time. In the wake of Letterman’s much-hyped return, “Late Show” ratings were way up, with an average 7 million viewers for the week of Feb. 21. Since then, something closer to status quo has returned, with “The Late Show” averaging between 4 million and 4.5 million viewers a week, a bump over the numbers last year but still nearly 2 million behind rival Jay Leno on NBC.

Violent Young ‘Pups’ Bound for Controversy

The children are only 13 years old, but they’ve already become suburban terrorists. Standing in a bank, waving a loaded gun at helpless tellers and customers, the boy screams out his rage, while his miniskirted girlfriend walks outside brandishing her weapon as FBI agents and Los Angeles police train their own weapons on her. The film is called “Pups” and it is bound to generate controversy. Written, directed and produced by London-born filmmaker Ash (he doesn’t use a last name), “Pups” was filmed in Chatsworth in December 1998, just as the media were filled with horrific crimes committed by youths from Europe to the Far East, including the schoolyard shooting in Jonesboro, Ark. “The film was a reflection of what was going on in Jonesboro and around the world,” Ash said. The film premiered at the L.A. Independent Film Festival last year only days before the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo. “A lot of people wondered if we had prophesied it,” the director said. Ash, whose previous movie, “Bang,” drew critical praise for its guerrilla-style filmmaking, praised Tokyo-based Team Okuyama for financing “Pups” but noted that Hollywood studios were reluctant to distribute it after Columbine. The film chronicles the story of a rebellious and angry teenager (Cameron Van Hoy) who feels empowered when he and his girlfriend (Mischa Barton) stumble upon his mother’s gun. They skip school, hold up a bank and become the instant focus of the national media, including a live interview on MTV. The film features Burt Reynolds as a veteran FBI supervisor who tries to negotiate a peaceful surrender to the hostage drama, and Adam Farrar (Leonardo DiCaprio’s stepbrother) as a paraplegic Gulf War veteran. Farrar, 28, recently made headlines when he was arrested and later released pending further investigation, for allegedly attempting to kill his girlfriend in Marina del Rey. “I just hope people will judge Adam on his performance as opposed to who he is related to,” Ash said. The film will be released Friday by Allied Entertainment in a limited run at Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills.

--Compiled by Times Staff Writers