David Letterman’s final episode as host of Late Show is just a few weeks away, and to celebrate his long late night reign, The New York Times sat down with him for an interview about how his late night show developed over the years, why he never joined Twitter, what it felt like to be “surrounded by the Jimmys” after Jay Leno left The Tonight Show last year, and more. One of the most revealing parts of the interview came when Letterman was asked about his successor Stephen Colbert and whether or not he had a say in CBS’s decision to hire him:
Did you have any involvement in choosing Stephen Colbert as your successor?No. Not my show. When we sign off, we’re out of business with CBS. 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.But you were not consulted?[shakes head no] Mm-mmm.Did that bother you?Yeah, I guess so. 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.
Letterman isn’t the only late night host to suggest that his successor be someone other than a white guy – according to VH1 host Carrie Keagan, Craig Ferguson said last year that his Late Late Show successor should “unquestionably be a female.” Still, considering Letterman has hosted Late Show for over two decades, it’s surprising to hear CBS didn’t ask for his input or even keep him informed on the decision-making process.
Read the rest of Letterman’s interview over at The New York Times.