Jump to content

Letterman Baffled by Replacing of Leno


Recommended Posts

  • Members

September 3, 2008

Letterman Baffled by NBC’s Replacing of Leno


David Letterman, the CBS host who has competed with Jay Leno every weeknight for 15 years, now feels empathy for his late-night challenger.

In an interview with Rolling Stone on newsstands this week, Mr. Letterman, the longtime “Late Show” host, expresses bewilderment about NBC’s decision, first announced four years ago, to replace Mr. Leno next year with Conan O’Brien, the current host of “Late Night.”

“Unless I’m misunderstanding something, I don’t know why, after the job Jay has done for them, why they would relinquish that,” Mr. Letterman said in the interview. “I guess they thought it was a less messy way to handle what happened to me at NBC. I don’t know.”

Mr. Letterman famously moved from NBC to CBS in 1993 after Mr. Leno replaced Johnny Carson on NBC’s “Tonight” show, establishing one of the foremost rivalries on television. Asked by the interviewer Jason Gay whether he empathizes with Mr. Leno’s situation, Mr. Letterman said: “I guess empathy is the right word. It’s hard to know what he felt about it. I have to believe he was not happy about it.”

In what the magazine called Mr. Letterman’s first in-depth print interview since 1996, he even offers Mr. Leno a spot on his couch, saying: “I think he’d be a great guest on the show. The first night that he is out of a job, I think that would be a great situation.”

Mr. Letterman, 61, who has been a late-night host for 26 years, said he would love to continue at CBS when his contract expires in two years.

“The way I feel now, I would like to go beyond 2010, not much beyond, but you know, enough to go beyond,” Mr. Letterman said, pointedly noting that “you always like to be able to excuse yourself on your own terms.” He added that if CBS wanted to “make a change in 2010, you know, I’m fine with that, too.”

In the interview Mr. Letterman spends more time talking about the succession plan at NBC than he does his own future. Mr. Leno’s last edition of “Tonight” is scheduled for May 29, 2009. Mr. O’Brien is expected to take over on June 1. Mr. Letterman apparently harbored doubts about whether his former network would go forward with the plan. “I’m not quite sure why they would do that, so much so that one wonders if that’s actually what’s going to happen,” he said, later adding that it “just seemed so preposterous to me.”

But NBC reaffirmed the plans in May with the hiring of Jimmy Fallon as the future host of Mr. O’Brien’s “Late Night.”

“It’s only until recently that I felt this thing had traction,” Mr. Letterman said.

Mr. Letterman has ranked No. 2 behind Mr. Leno, who is 58, for more than a decade. Mr. Letterman acknowledges in the article, “I wish that we — and when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘me’ — I wish I could have prevailed.” But he concludes by saying that the reason for the ratings lies not in the local-news lead-ins of the two networks or the promotions of their shows, but in the difference between the two men. “I think he has greater appeal for more people than I do,” he said simply.

So far this season Mr. Leno’s “Tonight” show has averaged an audience of 4.8 million, while Mr. Letterman’s “Late Show” has averaged 3.5 million.

“It seems unlikely that now, after years and years of trying under a wide variety of circumstances and advantages and disadvantages, that suddenly I’m going to prevail,” Mr. Letterman said. “You can’t go through life fooling yourself. You have to be honest with the situation. That’s fine.”

That said, next year’s transition on NBC may present a new opportunity for Mr. Letterman. He told Rolling Stone that he had not given much thought to the forthcoming competition with Mr. O’Brien because “I still find it hard to believe that Jay won’t be there.”

Hinting at the late-night turmoil at NBC, Mr. Letterman said he would be surprised if a similar situation played out at CBS. When asked who might replace him at CBS, Mr. Letterman said, “I don’t know this for a fact, but I have a feeling that all of that has been taken care of or discussed.”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • Members

I guess. I mean, I really like Conan. But at least for the few year or two, IMO, Letterman would have his best shot at being #1 before Conan get's the momentum going. Conan is hilarious on his own, but I think he needs better writers and a bigger budget, which he no doubt would get in Leno's spot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Community Posts

    • What's truly Kafkaesque is how deluded he seems about himself and his views, and how when challenged to drill down in what he's actually saying about 'truth' and 'moderation' he just cycles back around to doublespeak. What he means is his desire to espouse conservative Republican views, but as someone who spent years working for Colbert and probably considers himself a liberal he can't fully admit that to himself or the entire game collapses. Same with his dancing around the topics of trans rights and his strange COVID beliefs - he doesn't want to fully articulate what he is trying to say. That would ruin things and make him realize he's just mouthing more of the same right-wing apologia as Joe Rogan and Dave Chappelle. Say what one will about the awful Zaslav and his sweater vests but at least he seems to know who he is. Licht is willfully clueless. And there were many valid reasons to fire Don Lemon, but being one of few prominent and outspoken gay and Black voices in media who could speak to what Trump and his kind are actually doing to people like him on-camera was not one of them.
    • Who wrote the dialogue for Todays show? "I remember everything about you and especially your mouth and the way you know how to use it" My skin is still crawling from seeing Cameron put his disgusting hand on Sharon’s face,
    • @Vee That makes me laugh. The part where Licht bitches about Don Lemon's clothing is very Succession (the Tom character), and I can picture that dinner party from hell too. Zucker, odious as he was, did seem to know how to grease palms. Licht just seems to be there to turn the network into right wing gruel, and still can't even do that as successfully as intended. I read that some other Zaslav flunky has been assigned to CNN now alongside Licht. 
    • Guiding Light Nurse Peggy Scott Dillman Fletcher Thorpe          Fran Myers     1965- May 77; Nov 77          April 78 - April  1979 Patti Sue Cosgrove    Gwynn Gillis    Oct 1978 model, ex of Dr Mark Hamilton   Dylan ???  August 79 Alan's pilot. Crashed plan with Alan and Hope on board. Died shortly after. Roger Thorpe           Joel Fabiani    (temporary)   1991               Dennis Parlato    1997-98         Michael Zaslow  1971- ? May 78- April 80; 1989-97 Gordon Middleton      Architect; Amanda's first husband. worked with and attracted to Hope Bauer                  Marcus Smythe   Sept  1978- Sept 79 Jerry McFarren     Ben's trouble causing younger brother                         Peter Jansen Oct Nov 76                        Mark Travis   May  1978 returned for Ben and Eve's wedding Dr. Clark     Roy Poole Dec 79  medical examiner exhumed Roger's body confirmed it was not Roger at all Dr. Johnny Fletcher Erik Holland  1967 Jan 73   Ann ___ Jeffers     Mike's secretary; lost son when her husband stole him; allowed Jimmy to stay with adoptive family; dated Mike, Justin, Ross, Joe Bradley and Andy Norris; became friend and roommate to Diane Ballard which didn't last when Diane showed interest in Ann's true love, Mike.                             Maureen Mooney    Aug 1975-June 80  
    • Check out the 2004 montly clips folders. I think someone simply put everything in the appropriate month. I had created a folder with clips of Michael/Lauren from 2004 a while back which I also thought were deleted but they were just moved in the month they are from.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy