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Bill Murray appears on The Late Show with David Letterman on Jan. 31, 2012. / Howard Stern appears on The Late Show on Feb. 1, 2012. - Provided courtesy of CBS / Worldwide Pants

Bill Murray gives David Letterman flaming cupcake to celebrate 30th anniversary

02/02/2012 by Corinne Heller

David Letterman recently celebrated his 30th anniversary of his job as a late-night television host by featuring on his CBS series "The Late Show" shock jock Howard Stern and "Groundhog Day" actor Bill Murray, who almost started a fire at the CBS studio.

On Tuesday's episode, the 61-year-old actor, known for his eccentric humor, brought Letterman a chocolate-frosted cupcake with 30 candles. He lit them with an electronic lighter and matches. Murray dropped several sticks, still attached to the packet, on the floor and uttered a muted expletive before he kicked it and put out the flames. Letterman, 64, then blew out the candles.

"It's just a cupcake but ... I got a piece of you in my heart that's so big, that that cupcake doesn't do it," Murray said. "I wanted to somehow say how I felt about what you've done and I think in these 30 years, what this country's been through, what this city's been through, what you've been through, what I've been through ... there's some people who've have got it even worse than you or I out there, I'm sure."

Murray famously played Phil, a man whose day was repeated in the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day," which spoofs a German tradition, in which Pennsylvania groundhog Punxsutawney Phil "predicts" winter will last for another six weeks if he sees his shadow. On Groundhog Day on Thursday, February 2, he did see a "terrifying" shadow, according to his Twitter page, but copy cat groundhogs in other states did not.

Murray is also known for the "Ghostbusters" films and was nominated for an Oscar for the 2003 movie "Lost in Translation." He has appeared on screen sparingly in recent years. His last film was the 2010 movie "Passion Play" and he last appeared on television in the spring of 2011 on an episode of Letterman's series. He reunited with "The Darjeeling Limited" director Wes Anderson to make the film "Moonrise Kingdom," which is set to be released in March.

On Tuesday's show, Murray wore a football uniform. He had earlier filmed a segment in which he kicked field goals with Letterman and Regis Philbin, who is 80 and who left the ABC daytime talk show "LIVE! with Regis and Kelly" in November after hosting various formats of it for more than 28 years. Letterman has often joked about Philbin's age.

Murray told Letterman that he wanted to give him another gift.

"What you've done in 30 years, I just thought I'd do something ... from here, that would really speak how I felt," Murray added, pointing to his chest. "You're so damn hard to shop for .... Money's no object for me - I think you know that."

Murray than teased that Letterman could see his gift every time he walked into the building. Two men in traditional Scottish kilts were seen playing bagpipes as a painting of Murray that hung on a wall was shown.

"The Late Show" debuted on Aug. 30, 1993. Letterman, a native of Indiana and former news anchor and weatherman, moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s to pursue an entertainment career. He performed stand-up comedy at the World Famous Comedy Store, a club that also featured who would become his longtime rival, Jay Leno.

Letterman hosted an NBC daytime talk series called "The David Letterman Show" for several months in 1980 before he was made the host of the CBS talk program "Late Night." Murray appeared on its debut on February 1, 1982. The series was later hosted by Conan O'Brien.

Letterman often guest-hosted NBC's "Tonight Show" when it was headed by Johnny Carson. In 1992, when the regular host retired, many expected Letterman to take over the series, but the job was given to Leno. Letterman then left to launch "The Late Show" on CBS. He has often slammed Leno on the air, although they did appear together in a Super Bowl commercial with Oprah Winfrey in 2010.

HOWARD STERN ADMIRES DAVE LETTERMAN

Stern, a longtime Letterman supporter, has often also slammed Leno openly and said on Piers Morgan's CNN talk show in January 2011 that he would never appear on Leno's show again.

The 58-year-old shock jock reiterated this on "The Late Show" on an episode that aired on Wednesday, February 1. Stern, who is set to make his debut as a co-judge on the NBC show "America's Got Talent" later this year, said to Letterman that he told executives at NBC that he will not promote the reality series on "The Tonight Show," adding: "At this point in my career, who's doing to force me to do anything?"

Letterman joked that he would be pressured into appearing on the rival program, mimicing Leno's voice while saying: "And tomorrow night, Howard Stern is going to be here!"

"Let me remind everybody who did the Super Bowl commercial with Jay Leno and Oprah," Stern said. "The war isn't over for me. I'm busy fighting your battles."

The shaggy-haired shock jock appeared on the episode in his trademark sunglasses and told Letterman: "Congratulations on your 30th anniversary. You continue to be someone I admire."

Letterman showed a photograph of the two on the talk show from a May 21, 1984 episode.

"The mustache worked for me, didn't it?" Stern joked. "Dave, I swear to you, back then, the fact that you asked me to be on a national TV show was mind-blowing to me because I was a radio guy, I was the scum of the earth, the people who had hired me at NBC didn't want me working there ... I put no thought into my wardrobe. I put no thought into my facial hair."

"It looks like a guy who's on to talk about a career of writing bad checks," Letterman said.

Stern was fired from WNBC radio in the mid-1980s after angering executives with his raunchy content. His experience was documented in the 1997 movie "Private Parts."

Stern, dubbed the "King of all Media," later worked at other stations and now hosts "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius XM satellite radio. In addition to sexual content and regular interviews with porn stars as well as more mainstream celebrities, his show also contains uncensored swearing.

He announced last month that he had accepted an offer to replace Morgan as a judge on "America's Got Talent," which will his NBC return and his biggest television role since "The Howard Stern Show" aired on the E! cable channel between 1994 and 2005, a year before he moved to Sirius. The subscription service initially signed a $500 million five-year deal with him. He renewed his contract for an undisclosed sum in December 2010.

Stern told Letterman he initially played "coy" about NBC's offer to him to replace Morgan on "America's Got Talent."

"Meanwhile I said, 'What a job this is. I sit at home and watch these shows like a mental patient," Stern said. "I watch 'American idol,' I watch 'X-Factor.' I watch 'The Bachelor.' My TiVo thinks I'm a 35-year-old woman."

When Letterman asked the shock jock, who is very blunt on his radio show, if he would make contestants cry, he said: "I don't know that I'm going to be that forceful. You know I can do it."

"I said to the guys on NBC, 'You want me to be a judge? Who's your target audience?' The guys says to me, 'Women 35 to 49,'" Stern added. "I said, 'You guys are geniuses. Who appeals to women 35 to 49 more than me?'"

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