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Stephen Colbert Was Not David Letterman's First Choice to Succeed Him

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 29, 2015 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 29, 2015 |

David Letterman gave a really lovely, thoughtful and candid interview with The New York Times this week, and here’s the newsy bit. The part that brings all the clicks to the yard. The bit about how Dave wasn’t consulted on his replacement, and how he thought it might have been a good opportunity to bring in someone else besides another white male:

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.

But the important part of the piece is the entire piece; it is in acknowledging that David Letterman is leaving in three weeks. It is in realizing that, since announcing his retirement, he’s never felt more liberated and free to do his own thing. It is in knowing that Dave always felt insecure about being behind Jay Leno; it is in feeling a little heartsick about the fact that Letterman doesn’t fully realize just how much he has meant to so many people; it’s in trying to imagine David Letterman in a world where he’s not on television every night; it is in feeling a sad sense of loss.

I always dreamed about what I’d write for this site when David Letterman passed away. It never occurred to me that I’d have to write about him retiring. It’s too much, y’all, like pouring the Pacific Ocean into a tea cup.

You should really read the interview.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.