Former NBC anchor mentions alumna on Letterman

Chronicle Staff

Getting a few minutes of exposure on Letterman is every aspiring comedy writer’s dream, but a mock showdown with former NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw? In the cutthroat entertainment business, you sometimes have to take what you can get.

The madness started a month beforehand, when Natalie Farrell ’02 flippantly told a writer in the Stanford Daily that Brokaw, who had been invited to speak at the Stanford Commencement, resembled an adult contemporary radio station. “It offends no one but is pretty difficult to get excited about,” she said.

Farrell, voted “most sarcastic” by her senior class in high school, did not intend her words to be taken seriously, adding afterwards that her first choice for a commencement speaker would be Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“Then so many people would boycott the ceremony in protest that my entire family might actually have enough seats,” she said.

But Brokaw took the comments to heart. He opened his speech with a direct address to Farrell, asking her to listen to Michael Bolton on her iPod instead of his speech. The line got a huge laugh from the audience, and there was so much noise that Farrell had to look up the speech online later that week to find out what he had said.

“He seemed to have a sense of humor about it at the graduation ceremony,” Farrell said. “He opened with it, pretty much. My parents were thrilled.”

Farrell wasn’t still thinking of Brokaw when he was invited on the Late Show with David Letterman June 30. Letterman had asked Brokaw about what he had done over the summer, and he replied that he had given speeches at several colleges, including how he had put down a girl that tried to compare him to an adult contemporary radio station. Farrell was delighted, although the line didn’t get a laugh on the show.

“I’m even more excited than when they reopened Tomorrowland,” she said at the time. The clip remained on the CBS website for a few days under the heading “Is Brokaw like Michael Bolton?”, but it has since been taken down.

“I was hoping that someone with too much time on their hands would put it up on YouTube,” Farrell said. So far, it hasn’t happened. Rumsfeld has not said anything either, but then again, he doesn’t make the light-night talk show circuit very often.

“He hasn’t called me out on it,” Farrell said. “I really hoped he would.”