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David Letterman Had No Say in Late Show Replacement

2 minute read

CBS never consulted David Letterman about his Late Show successor, but that didn’t stop him from having plenty of opinions on the matter.

Letterman, whose final episode of the Late Show airs May 20, told the New York Times that while he has long believed that incoming host Stephen Colbert would make a great successor, he also thought it “would have made sense” to break network TV’s mold of white, male late-night hosts:

I always thought Jon Stewart would have been a good choice. And then Stephen. And then I thought, well, maybe this will be a good opportunity to put a black person on, and it would be a good opportunity to put a woman on. Because there are certainly a lot of very funny women that have television shows everywhere. So that would have made sense to me as well.

Letterman admits he was initially bothered by his lack of input but that he’s since gotten over it.

Just as a courtesy, maybe somebody would say: “You know, we’re kicking around some names. Do you have any thoughts here?” But it doesn’t bother me now. At the time, I had made the decision [to leave] and I thought, O.K., this is what comes when you make this decision.

Elsewhere in the interview, he also discussed what to expect from his final show.

“I can remember when [Johnny Carson] signed off that night, it just left you [with] a nagging sense of loss,” he said. “This doesn’t apply here. I want it to be a little more cheery. And I want it to be upbeat, and I want it to be funny, and I want people to be happy that they spent the time to watch it.”


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Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com