Letterman fires Tony the cue card guy

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David Letterman has allowed us to look behind the scenes and get to meet and get to know some of his staff, including Tony Mendes, the guy that holds up the cue cards.

But it all went to custard…  

The altercation between on-air favorite Tony Mendez and 15-time Emmy nominee Scheft erupted on Oct. 9 before the show’s Thursday taping, but it was triggered by a verbal dustup the day before in Letterman’s dressing room, Mendez said.

“[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.

On Wednesday, Oct. 8, the three were rehearsing in Letterman’s backstage digs at the Ed Sullivan Theater when Mendez said he reacted to one of Scheft’s interruptions, telling him, “I know what I’m doing. Get off my back.”

But suddenly Letterman growled, “Tony, your sour disposition isn’t helping,” Mendez recalled.

“ ‘You’re the one who has the sour disposition, mothf–ker,’ ’’ Mendez snapped back.

Mendez admitted he was “pissed off,” but said he and Letterman often traded off-color barbs. “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 brings a bit of normalcy — because everyone else is like, ‘Yes, yes, Mr. Letterman. If you want something impossible, yes, we’ll do it, Mr. Letterman.’ ”

Still, Mendez said he was hurt by the exchange with his idol and boss of 21 years.

“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.”

Mendez said he stewed all night and the next morning, when he got to work, he was literally at Scheft’s throat.

“I just grabbed him by the shirt,” Mendez said. “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, 5-foot-7 but with a scrappy build, threw the taller, bespectacled, 57-year-old Scheft against a wall, two CBS sources said. “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,” Mendez said.

Mendez was immediately booted from the theater.

On Monday, he was told by “Late Show” executive producer Rob Burnett that he was “officially terminated.”

I guess Scheft won that one.

21 years.  What a waste.

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Capt H. M. Murdock

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