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Unlike other late-night shows, The Late Late Show did not have a house band (a tradition that carried on to its iterations under Kilborn and Ferguson) or any announcer, except for the last episode, when Snyder allowed one of his staff members to announce an introduction.Letterman had offered the Late Late spot to Garry Shandling, a former permanent guest host of the Tonight Show but Shandling turned the offer down in favour of The Larry Sanders Show (NBC had previously approached Shandling about succeeding Letterman on Late Night but he had also declined that offer).Snyder's show featured a mix of celebrities, politicians and other newsmakers, but was otherwise quite unlike the program hosted by Letterman.Snyder was a former newsman, not a comedian, and his show featured an intimate interview format with no studio audience present, similar to his old Tomorrow show of the 1970s, or to Charlie Rose show and Later, which had abandoned the format the previous year.Following the conclusion of the on-air auditions on December 3, 2004, guest hosts continued to fill out the roster until the end of the year and included: Jason Alexander, Donal Logue, David Alan Grier, Aisha Tyler, Drew Carey, Sara Rue, John Witherspoon, Joe Buck, Susan Sarandon, Don Cheadle, Daryl Mitchell, Bob Saget, Jim Rome, Ana Gasteyer, Damien Fahey and D. A loose comic monologue then followed, consistently including a greeting ("Welcome to Los Angeles, California, welcome to the Late Late Show, I am your host, TV's Craig Ferguson") and the proclamation that "It's a great day for America, everybody! From 2010 the monologue also included banter with Geoff Peterson, his "robot skeleton sidekick", voiced and controlled by Josh Robert Thompson.This animatronic was constructed by the Mythbusters' Grant Imahara but went through many revisions, the most important was the regular live control and voicing by Thompson.Saxophonist David Sanborn composed and performed the theme music and several other songs featured on the show, all of which were smooth jazz pieces to fit the show's low-key, middle-of-the-night mood.Sanborn had previously been a guest saxophonist in The World's Most Dangerous Band during Late Night with David Letterman.
The traditional opening monologue also tended to be different from that of other late night shows tending to avoid jokes with punch lines during Snyder and Ferguson's tenures in favour of a short conversational introduction when Snyder was host and a cold opening featuring either a musical parody, audience interaction, a short sketch or interaction between Ferguson and Geoff Peterson followed by an anecdotal stream of consciousness introduction during most of Ferguson's years.
Craig Kilborn took over in March 1999, having left The Daily Show to become the new Late Late Show host (previously he was an anchor on ESPN's Sports Center).
When Kilborn was on the show, it began with an image of a full moon wavering behind gray stratus clouds, to the tuning of an orchestra, while the announcer—the recorded, modulated voice of Kilborn himself—blurted out, "From the gorgeous, gorgeous Hollywood Hills in sunny California, it's your Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.
Tom Snyder hosted the program from its inception in January 1995 until March 1999.
The choice of Snyder as host was made by David Letterman, whose contract with CBS gave him (via production company Worldwide Pants) the power to produce the show in the timeslot immediately after his own program and who had an affinity for Snyder, whose NBC late night series Tomorrow had been succeeded by Late Night with David Letterman.
Longtime late night television producer Peter Lassally was executive producer of Snyder's iteration of the program and mentored Jon Stewart when he was a guest host filling in for Snyder.