David Letterman’s final episode of The Late Show will air in just 13 days from now, and after 33 years, the man once considered the “prince” of late night will retire a king, if not in ratings, at least in influence. Truth be told, Letterman has been considering retiring from late night for much longer than he’s let on. In fact, he told Rolling Stone in an extensive interview that he’d been considering it for well over a year, and came to the decision — in part — when he was researching bird facts with his son, Harry. “I just thought, ‘I don’t want this to be mawkish, I don’t want to be maudlin. Let me see if I can’t just put it all off on the kid.'”
It’s still possible that the finale will feature an appearance from Dave’s old rival, Jay Leno, who has apparently not yet accepted Dave’s offer to appear on one of his final shows. However, Dave did call Leno when he announced his own retirement, as Letterman recounts to Rolling Stone:
“I know it must have been hard for him,” Letterman reveals. So he called him up. “I said, ‘Jay, are you actually retiring?'” Letterman related. “And he said, yeah. . . . And I said, ‘Well, I hope this is good for you, and I’m sorry you’re leaving.’ He was very nice and earnest about it.”
Whether Leno shows up or not, we do know that Dave will face a little less competition that night, as Jimmy Kimmel told the New York Times that he will be airing a rerun that night, despite the fact that it’s during sweeps week (he will be running first-run episodes the other four nights of the week):
“I have too much respect for Dave to do anything that would distract viewers from watching his final show,” Mr. Kimmel said in an email. “Plus, I’ll probably be crying all day, which makes it hard to work.”
On the other hand, while Jon Stewart is off that week, both Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon will be airing first-run episodes, although I’d like to hope that both hosts will at least take a moment during those shows to acknowledge that Letterman is leaving and that he paved the way for both of them, if not in influence than in their positions (O’Brien succeeded Dave at Late Night and Fallon succeeded O’Brien).
Source: New York Times