THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN, TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW
September 20, 2006
David: Our next guest stars on the hugely popular CSI program which begins its seventh season tomorrow night right here on CBS. Please welcome the lovely Marg Helgenberger!
David: You look wonderful.
Marg: Thank you.
David: Absolutely tremendous. It’s hard for me to believe you’re beginning your seventh season on the show. It’s remarkable, isn’t it?
Marg: It’s hard for me to believe as well, yes. It goes by quickly.
David: And the seventh season must differ altogether from the first season, right? I mean, in terms of how it feels and the familiarity and the excitement. It’s all a little different, isn’t it?
Marg: It’s a little different. I think we’re all a little more relaxed, a little more comfortable in what we’re doing. We shoot a lot in Vegas, and in fact, the last time we were in Vegas, you know – things happen in Vegas that wouldn’t happen in Los Angeles. We found ourselves…because we always shoot, like, way into the early mornings – 3, 4, 5 whatever. We all ended up, the last night, ended up at the MGM Grand Bar where the crew was staying and I think it was two cast members, myself and Scott Wilson, and uh, you know, you end up imbibing, and, you know, it’s late and the next thing you know, you’re having a tattoo/body piercing party…
Marg: Viewing party, I should say.
David: Whoa! Hold it! Wait just a minute.
Marg: I don’t have either, but…
David: So this, the crew, everybody gets a little too friendly. Is that what happened?
Marg: Well, I mean, yes.
David: What did you see?
Marg: Well, it was mostly guys…
David: What were people showing you?
Marg: Oh, well, let’s see. I guess the best one was probably flames around nipples. That was…
David (stuttering and coughing)
Marg: It was on a man!
Marg: It was on a guy. Yeah. But there’s this kind of bonding experience after that point, and the next time I saw him on the set, you know, it was like that moment when you see somebody after you’ve slept with them – it’s like a… (Marg makes a salute-like gesture and starts laughing).
David: I’m not sure what you’re talking about. (Marg and the audience laugh).
David: But, honestly, a guy goes into a tattoo place and says ‘You know what I would like. You know what I think would be good, flames around the nipples.
Marg: And he said he did it when he was 18! Can you imagine? If that was my son, I think I would have just, I don’t know, called it a day then and just kicked him out of the house.
David: What is the symbolism of that exactly? What does that represent?
Marg: I don’t know. You’d have to ask…I’ll ask him.
David: Heartburn? (Marg laughs). I mean, honest to God, what are we talking about here?
Marg: I know! It’s, you know, an 18-year old person who was probably drunk.
David: But…so, primarily, the show is shot in Los Angeles. Every now and then, you go to Las Vegas. Is that what it is?
Marg: That’s right, yes.
David: And you’re from the Midwest. I’m thinking it’s Nebraska.
Marg: That’s right! Yes, yes.
David: And big football fans?
Marg: Oh my God, it’s a religion!
Marg: The Cornhusker football team. It’s a religion. In fact, many of my family and friends came out just this last weekend because Nebraska played USC for the first time since 1970, and my mother claims there was a pilgrimage of about 80,000 fans. You’d believe it once you saw that stadium. And I…it was the hardest ticket to score! I was able to pull strings through CBS and I got four tickets in the USC faculty section. And my mother, my stepfather, and my son, we all were sitting there, and it was actually exciting because it’s at the coliseum, and the USC Marching Band is really fun. And the fans actually were doing this gesture (makes what looks like a peace sign and stops waving it back and forth), you know, which I just assumed…
David: The USC fans were doing this?
Marg: Yes, I’m sorry. The USC fans were doing this.
David: Sure. Right.
Marg: Which I just assumed was ‘Victory,’ and my mother kept saying ‘What is that?’ because she has to know everything…
David: I don’t know what it is either. I don’t’ know what this means.
Marg: Well, it turns out, because we were in the faculty section, my mother says…well, she had to get to the bottom of it, right? We found out it’s part of Trojan folklore dating back to Ancient Greece when the Trojans were fighting the Spartans and when they were battling each other with bows and arrows, they would chop off the two fingers of the soldiers they had captured so that they could no longer use their bow and arrows. And then they’d taunt their victims like this (makes the gesture again). And once my mother found out, she goes ‘That really makes me mad now!’ that these USC fans were going like this to…(Marg and Dave laugh).
Marg: My mother, who had her toes painted, like, with Nebraska and footballs on her big toes. I swear to God! And her red jacket, and…
David: What was the outcome of the contest?
Marg: Well, sadly, it didn’t go in our favor, but you know…
David: USC rolls on.
Marg: That’s right, that’s right. Yes.
David: Now you had a…what’s your hometown in Nebraska?
Marg: North Bend, Nebraska.
David: Where is North Bend?
Marg: It’s about 60 miles west of Omaha, on the Platte River, and yes, my hometown.
David: Is it beautiful there?
Marg: It actually is. It’s farm country.
David: Is it rolling or just table flat?
Marg: Well, it’s mostly flat but a little rolling here and there. But, you know, corn fields, wheat fields, soybean fields.
David: Sounds lovely. Endless horizon?
Marg: Yes! Yes, the sunsets are beautiful. Skies…big sky, yes.
David: Recently, they presented you with, I think, a very lovely honor.
Marg: Thank you.
David: And when we come back, we’ll talk more about that. Marg Helgenberger, everybody!
David: So we’re back there in North Bend, Nebraska, and they call you up. Was it the mayor? Was it the governor of the state? How did you hear about this?
Marg: Well, my hometown, North Bend, population 1,200, was having their 105th anniversary of the founding of the…which is the Sesquicentennial, I think is how you say it. Anyway, they wanted me to come back to be a part of that, and they wanted to honor me with naming a street after me, Helgenberger Avenue, and it was…
David: (says something I can’t hear)
Marg: Yeah, it was really…Anyway, it was on the corner in which I grew up, and I was able to tour the home in which I grew up, and it was right across from the public swimming pool where I was a lifeguard/swim instructor. And…
David: This took place this summer? Is that when it happened?
Marg: Yes, this summer. And they had a big, black thing covering it, and then they had all these people making speeches and this and that about how fabulous I was (laughs).
And anyway, they unveiled it and I think I made some comment to the effect of ‘Oh, it’s here for all eternity,’ and my brother and cousin, who were just standing over here, my brother goes ‘Yeah, I give it ‘til sunset.’ (Everyone laughs)
Marg: But I found out at the tailgate party at the game that it’s still up. Yes!
David: What I would be a little upset about is this right here (points at the picture), ‘Honorary’ Helgenberger Avenue. That makes it…
Marg: It’s not official? Yeah.
David: What’s that all about? They’ve still got Locust Street, so what is it? It’s…
Marg: But look how much better that looks than (points at the signs). How sharper and pristine…
David: But think about the confusion in giving directions. Is it Locust or is it…? No, no, it’s not Locust, it’s Helgenberger. Yes, but is it Honorary Helgenberger or is it Helgenberger? No, I think it’s Locust. (Marg laughs).
David: Well, anyway, I’d be a proud woman if I were you.
Marg: Thank you. I was very touched by it.
David: Now, tell us what….ooh! You know what is one of the great gimmicks they’ve come up with on those CSI shows? All of the other ones find actual dead bodies. There was one here in New York. There was one in Miami.
Marg: So I hear.
David: And Les Moonves is a genius. (Marg laughs)
David: And I just wondered if they had found a dead body where you shoot your show.
Marg: You know what? We haven’t. I don’t know how that’s happened because we’ve shot in some unsavory neighborhoods, especially in Las Vegas. In one of the neighborhoods, in fact, we were shooting near a strip club. Actually it was an area that was populated by strip clubs and wedding chapels. Anyway, there was a big billboard that was advertising – it was ‘The Home of the $5 Lap Dance’.
David: Whoa! (He laughs)
Marg: Yeah. There wasn’t a big, long line!
David: I mean, seriously…
Marg: It wasn’t that popular.
David: When it comes to lap dances, are you really looking for a bargain? Honest to God, is that really where you want to save money?! (Everyone laughs). I’m not sure…
David: But anyway, it begins its seventh season tomorrow night right here on CBS. At what time? 9:00?
Marg: 9:00, yes.
David: Great. Good to see you again, Marg. Thank you very much.
Marg: You too, David. Thanks!
David: Marg Helgenberger, everybody!