Jimmy Kimmel Cancels Live! Episode for David Letterman’s Final Broadcast: “Too Much Respect”

Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman
Jimmy Kimmel won't air Jimmy Kimmel Live during David Letterman's last Late Show. Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Donna Ward/Getty Images

Sometimes ratings aren't everything. In the midst of May sweeps, Jimmy Kimmel will skip one night of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, choosing not to air the show as David Letterman says his final goodbye to the Late Show.

According to The New York Times, Kimmel, 47, will not broadcast his talk show on Wednesday, May 20, in order to honor Letterman as he makes his last appearance as host of the network show. The two late-night personalities are usually in fierce competition, as Jimmy Kimmel Live! hits ABC at 11:35/10:35c in the evenings, just as the Late Show arrives on CBS.

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"I have too much respect for Dave to do anything that would distract viewers from watching his final show," Kimmel told NYT in an email. "Plus, I’ll probably be crying all day, which makes it hard to work."

Lest Kimmel enthusiasts be left without their Kimmel fix, the funnyman is expected to air a repeat show that evening in his usual time slot. 

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"It's very sad for me, personally," Kimmel told CNN of Letterman's exit after more than 40 years in the business. "When I was growing up I was, like, known in high school as the kid who watched David Letterman. I had a 'L8 Nite' license plate, I watched the show, and we didn't have a VCR, so I had to watch it live. This was way before we had YouTube where we could pick and choose every little thing we wanted to. But I love Dave, and I'm going to miss him."

Kimmel has long ties to Letterman, 68, and has been outspoken over the years about his adoration for the veteran comedian. After spending decades looking up to Letterman, Kimmel took a shot at asking the Late Show host to be a part of his big break. In 2002, he wrote Letterman a letter, which surfaced in 2012, asking him to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in its inception.

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"Dear Jimmy, Thanks for asking me to appear on your premiere," reads the note, which Kimmel told New York Magazine is now framed and hangs in his office. "Unfortunately, I will be out of the country on business. I’m sure the program will be a success regardless. Sincerely, Dave."

Letterman finally made his long-awaited appearance on the show in November 2012, and he touched on Kimmel in an interview with The New York Times last month. Reflecting on his competitors and his future after the show, Letterman said, "I know I can’t do what Jimmy Fallon’s doing. I know I can’t do what Jimmy Kimmel is doing. There’s nothing left to be worried about. It’s all over, Dad, you’re going to be just fine. You’re going to a new place. They’ll be very nice to you, Dad. You’ll make a lot of friends."

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