A cue card holder for Late Show with David Letterman has been fired after allegedly assaulting a writer on the show. Tony Mendez, 69, gave the Post the blow-by-blow on his confrontation with writer Bill Scheft, and how it led to his dismissal from the show. "I know I shouldn’t have put my hands on him," Mendez, who has worked with Letterman for the last 21 years, told them. "But this has been coming for a long time."
The fight between Mendez and Scheft happened on Oct. 9th before the show’s Thursday taping, but Mendez says he and Scheft had been butting heads for awhile. And Mendez wasn't shy about sharing that info:
“[Scheft] encroaches on my work. He tells me what to do, and I have to say, ‘I know what I’m doing.’ And a lot of time when I am making changes [to the cards], he’ll stand there looking over my shoulder, and he’ll say something like, ‘Put that on top,’ because he got an idea.
“Bill was always undermining me — making himself out as Dave’s No. 1,” Mendez said. “Trying to pretend that I wasn’t even in the room . . . little passive-aggressive things.
“As Dave is giving me a change, Bill will start yelling the same change — but his own version — because he’ll think it’s funnier. And I have to say, ‘One at a time, I can’t hear anybody!’ ”
Tensions between the two men were made worse when Mendez and Scheft were arguing the day before the physical fight, and Letterman got involved and commented on Mendez's "sour disposition"—Mendez shot back at his boss, "You're the one who has the sour disposition, motherfucker." Mendez says this is how the two talk to each other, although he thinks Scheft was setting him up to "look like an asshole."
“That’s how we talk,” Mendez said. “We tell each other ‘F-k you’ and ‘Hey a-hole.’ He doesn’t do that with anybody — but he feels comfortable with me. ... “That night I wanted to tell Dave how much that hurt my feelings,” Mendez said. “And then I realized that this is what Bill was doing. He was trying to create a wedge between us so Dave would think I was an a-hole.”
The next day, Mendez grabbed Scheft by the shirt: "He was very surprised. He didn’t say a word. He was cowering, his eyes were real big, he probably peed a little bit on his pants." Mendez was immediately fired, though he disputes hitting him: "I’m the first one to say I should have never put my hands on him, but I never hit him. I just grabbed him and got my face in his face." Scheft reportedly "has been telling colleagues he now has post traumatic stress disorder."
For what it's worth, Mendez—who started working at Late Show in 1993, has been featured on air several times, and even has his own web show—doesn't blame Letterman at all. "Dave has never let me down,” he told the Post. "He is the best, the most generous boss I have ever had. Dave would never do anything to harm me.”
You can see Mendez and Letterman in happier times in the video below: