No more ‘stupid tricks’ for topnotch talent hound

Former talent producer at the David Letterman show Darren Demeterio

By Cristina DC Pastor

For eight years, Darren Demeterio supplied David Letterman with dogs that sneeze, answer the phone or people who wear toilet plungers on their heads.

The Stupid Human and Pet Tricks was a beloved staple that contributed to making “The Late Show with David Letterman” a six-time Emmy winner and an enduring late-night show that debuted in 1993 around the time that Kim Basinger married Alec Baldwin and the “Goodbye Girl” ended its run at the Marquis Theater.

Darren joined the show three years later, starting as an intern when he was a mass communication major at the University of Connecticut.

“It was my first job,” said Darren, now 40.

At the time, the young grad did not quite appreciate what a great gig he landed.

“I was so young then, all of a sudden I won five or six Emmy awards in a row,” he said. The Best Comedy/Variety Show award was for the show, but all the staff members got their own Emmy certificates. “The show was amazing. Looking back on it, it was a great opportunity being there for eight years, and I’m very thankful for that.”

Darren remembered enjoying the wacky segment as a young kid. To this day, he couldn’t believe he would one day call the shots for it.

“It’s becoming more and more difficult to find stupid tricks,” he said.

Letterman waits for dog to showcase his 'talent'

His job took him around the country twice a month to scout for pets and talents and bring them to New York. Hordes lined up for auditions. “Sometimes I’d get about 50 people and there wouldn’t be a good one. Sometimes, it takes more than a hundred to find one good one.”

Darren left the Late Show in 2004 and became a talent producer for a sports network. It wasn’t the vanishing stupid acts, but a combination of reasons – from “wanting to try new things” to fatherhood. Darren and wife Jacqueline, an Armenian American, now have a 16-month-old daughter Sophia.

“I was there for a long time. A lot of people I’ve worked with have also left the show; maybe it was time to try something else,” he thought.

He described Letterman as “very cordial.” Darren said there wasn’t much contact with the comic, because he reported directly to the talent executive in charge of his department.

This month, he began his new job booking guests at ESPN.

Booking talents may seem like a stressful job, but Darren said he’s been lucky he has not encountered divas or oversized egos. “They’re usually well behaved.”

“You run into times where the guest will, at the last minute, have to cancel, but that’s pretty rare,” he continued. When that happened at the Late Show, he knew what to do: Dial old reliables, a group of “friends of the show” who live in New York and don’t mind standing in for the absentee star. Regis Philbin is one of them.

Access. Top-tier publicists dangle it; tabloids go to war for it. Darren has 15 years worth of connections — from Michael Jordan to Kim Kardashian to Bill Clinton – that makes him valuable for a position that requires producing celebrities for radio or TV.

“Most of the time I talk to the publicists and the managers,” he said. In his line of work, consider his job done when the handlers say yes. “I’ve been very lucky.”

The son of a Filipino doctor from Leyte and an Irish-Romanian nurse, Darren and a younger brother were born in New York. They grew up in Long Island and went to school there. His father passed away in 2005; his mom now lives in Florida.

“There’s so many things I wish I was able to share with my dad, like my career and my daughter. It’s been bittersweet,” he said.

Cristina DC Pastor is the founding editor of The FilAm.

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