Fired Cuban 'Late Show With David Letterman' Cue-Card Holder Says Host Is 'Isolated From Everything'
On Monday, "Late Show With David Letterman" executive producer Rob Burnett informed Tony Mendez, who worked as a cue-card holder on the show since 1993, that he was fired following a physical fight with staff writer Bill Scheft.
"[Scheft] encroaches on my work," Mendez told New York Post. "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."
The Cuban-born cue-card holder said Scheft was trying to make himself "Dave's No.1" by doing "passive-aggressive things" like pretending Mendez wasn't in the room.
The final fight was reportedly instigated by an argument that took place on Oct. 8 in Letterman's dressing room. Mendez said he responded to one of Scheft's interruptions with "get off my back," causing Letterman to interject.
"Tony, your sour disposition isn't helping," Letterman said according to Mendez.
"You're the one who has the sour disposition, mothf**ker,'' Mendez responded.
Mendez said that he and Letterman often curse at each other, but this time he felt hurt.
"That night I wanted to tell Dave how much that hurt my feelings, and then I realized that this is what Bill was doing," Mendez explained. "He was trying to create a wedge between us so Dave would think I was an a**hole."
On Oct. 9, Mendez, 69, got physical with Scheft, 57, at work. According to two unnamed CBS sources, Mendez, who is 5-foot-7, threw Scheft, who NY Post describes as "taller," against a wall.
"I just grabbed him by the shirt," Mendez recalled. "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 subsequently kicked out of the studio, and on Monday he was fired. He will receive his salary and health benefits until "Late Night With David Letterman" ends in May.
Scheft has not commented on the incident, but sources claim he missed work until the following Friday and says he has post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mendez, who hosts his own YouTube show and has gotten camera time on "Late Show With David Letterman" himself, says he doesn't have hard feelings against Letterman.
"Dave has never let me down," he explained. "...They have [Dave] a little isolated from everything, and he sometimes doesn't want to hear it. The people who look down on us are the producers -- people who are getting the big bucks and are in positions of power."
According to a rep for "Late Show With David Letterman" producer Worldwide Pants, the company "cannot comment on a confidential personal matter," Variety reports.
Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.