Peter Lassally (born in 1933 in Hamburg, Germany) is a former Carson Productions executive who served as the executive producer of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Late Night with David Letterman, the Late Show with David Letterman and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
Lassally was born into a Jewish family in Hamburg, Germany. They fled to the Netherlands in 1938 before the outbreak of World War II, where he was a grade-school classmate of Anne Frank. In 1943, Lassally and his mother and sister were interned at the Westerbork Nazi concentration camp and then Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. In 1947, the family immigrated to New York City. Lassally graduated from Newtown High School. In 1951, he became a page at the NBC network studio.
Career in television
Lassally worked on radio shows including Monitor, Nightline and The Nation's Future. In the 1950s, he became producer for Arthur Godfrey's television show. In the 1960s, Lassally took over as an executive producer of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After Carson retired in 1992, Lassally became the executive producer of The Late Show with David Letterman. He was also executive producer of The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder from 1995 to 1999 and mentored Jon Stewart when he was a guest host filling in for Snyder. He went into semi-retirement until 2004 when Lassally was asked by the CBS network and Worldwide Pants, Letterman's production company, to oversee the selection of a new Late Late Show host after Craig Kilborn abruptly left. Auditions were held on the air over several months and Lassally recommended Craig Ferguson, persuading CBS and Letterman of the comedian's potential. Lassally came out of retirement to be executive producer of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and remained executive producer after Ferguson left to oversee the show through its successive guest hosts prior to the premiere of the Late Late Show with James Corden in March 2015.
As a longtime producer and confidant of successful talk show personalities, Lassally has been referred to as "the host whisperer." He retired on February 20, 2015, after Will Arnett's only show as guest host of the Late Late Show. Lassally appeared with Arnett in a cameo in the show's cold open telling Arnett that all someone needed to be a late night show was a suit.
- Carter, Bill (1996). The Late Shift: Letterman, Leno, and the Network Battle for the Night. Hyperion Books. ISBN 0-7868-8907-1.
- "Meet Peter Lassally, Late Night 'Host Whisperer'". Weekend Edition Saturday. NPR. 2012-08-25. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
- Jacques Steinberg "The Host Whisperer ", New York Times, July 17, 2005, p1-3