Late Night: David Letterman Joining Seth Meyers for 40th Anniversary

Late Night host Seth Meyers couldn't think of celebrating four decades of the talk show than landing its original host David Letterman. The actor and comedian started the program on NBC to follow up The Tonight Show then hosted by Johnny Carson in 1982. February 1st marks the exact date of the 40th anniversary of Letterman's premiere that saw the five-time Emmy Award winner serve 11 years on the network before moving to CBS in 1993 to host The Late Show following his Tonight Show snub to Jay Leno with Carson's retirement in 1992. Letterman remained on The Late Show until 2015 passing the torch to Stephen Colbert.

Late Night
Image: Screencap

Joining Letterman, Meyers announced, is musical guest Adam Duritz of the Counting Crows. With The Late Show running opposite Leno's Tonight Show, the late-night wars lasted the better part of 20 years that initially saw the CBS program beating the more established NBC counterpart before the latter landed the infamous Hugh Grant interview following his arrest for solicitation. With The Tonight Show regularly beating The Late Show, a new wrinkle entered the fold with Leno's promise to pass the torch of then-Late Night host and Letterman's NBC successor in Conan O'Brien just nearly 12 years ago.

As ratings soured on O'Brien's Tonight Show, NBC's Jeff Zucker pulled rank buying out the host's contract barely after six months on air prematurely ending his run before reverting back to Leno for the unintended return. During the firestorm, O'Brien took every opportunity to bury his employer while Letterman took the opportunity to pour it on against his former employer and rival. For good measure, ABC's Jimmy Kimmel, who was never part of any torch-bearing also raked Leno through the proverbial coals. In one such surreal moment, Kimmel even appeared on Leno's program via satellite to dish out his share of roasting for backstabbing of his one-time friend.

What was probably a more bizarre moment was when Leno appeared in a series of Super Bowl ads promoting The Late Show with Oprah Winfrey playing the straight role while Letterman proceeds to do his mock Leno impression in front of him as he was regularly doing leading up to it. When O'Brien left for his initial promotion for The Tonight Show, Late Night went to Jimmy Fallon, who became the eventual host of Tonight succeeding Leno in 2014 with NBC presumably having learned their lesson from before. His fellow Saturday Night Live alum Meyers took over Late Night and remained host since. While it won't be a surprise to see Fallon make a cameo, it might be a coin flip if O'Brien decides to show as well or Letterman's band leader Paul Shaffer. He did appear on with Fallon's Late Night in 2011 almost a year into his TBS stint. Letterman did the same appearing on his successor program and hosting his own talk series on Netflix called My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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