David Letterman Didn’t Pick Stephen Colbert for Late Show, Wasn’t Consulted About Replacement

Stephen Colbert and David Letterman
Stephen Colbert is taking over for David Letterman, but it wasn't Letterman's choice. Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images

David Letterman may be passing on the baton as he exits the Late Show, but the longtime TV personality had little say in the star he will be handing off to. Letterman, 68, revealed in a new interview with The New York Times that he was not consulted by CBS in Stephen Colbert's casting as the new host. 

"No, not my show," the funnyman told NYT when asked if he weighed in on the casting process. "When we sign off, we’re out of business with CBS."

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Letterman, who has been hosting the Late Show since 1993, will make his final appearance behind the desk on May 20, and Colbert, 50, will take over soon after. It was announced in April 2014 that the Colbert Report anchor got the gig, and the news was met both with celebration from those who admire the star, and frustration from critics looking for more diversity in late night.

"I always thought Jon Stewart would have been a good choice," Letterman said. "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."

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Letterman's picks did not make it very far, as he told NYT that representatives from CBS never came to him. Asked whether it bothered him that he wasn't consulted, the comedian said, "Yeah, I guess so."

"Just as a courtesy, maybe somebody would say, 'You know, we're kicking around some names,'" he continued. "'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, 'Okay, this is what comes when you make this decision.'"

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While he did not choose Colbert, Letterman voiced excitement about the Emmy winner's future with the Late Show

"If you’re running the show with Jimmy Fallon, that’s a certain dynamic. Jimmy Kimmel, a completely different dynamic. And now Stephen Colbert will add a third, different dynamic to it," He said. "I think it will be very interesting to see what he will do… We chatted when the announcement was made. And that was about it. I don’t think he needs [advice] — he’s not a kid. He’s not a beginner. He’s had pretty good success." 

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