When legendary TV talk show hosts retire from hosting their show, it usually means their showbiz career is pretty much over as well. After Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show, he rarely appeared in public ever again prior to his death a decade later. Jay Leno, after his second retirement from The Tonight Show, is still a working comedian and even hosts an CNBC show about cars, but he doesn’t have nearly the same high profile that he once did.
David Letterman, who stepped down from CBS’s Late Show in May of 2015, has mostly stuck to that as well, even explaining on a recent appearance on the Norm Macdonald Live show/podcast that he did what he always wanted to do and did it for 30 years. He grew a long beard, gives the occasional interview and sometimes appears at public events, mostly appearing at peace with no longer being on TV on a nightly basis. But now, Letterman is surprisingly preparing a legitimate comeback.
Letterman will host a new Netflix series starting in 2018, reports Deadline. The series will run for six episodes and will feature hour-long episodes, with both long form interviews and “in-the-field” segments. The series does not yet have a name. “I feel excited and lucky to be working on this project for Netflix. Here’s what I have learned, if you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first,” Letterman said in a statement.
The announcement continues Netflix’s series of huge moves in the comedy space, which was formerly dominated by HBO. A virtual who’s-who of top comedians, including Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, Norm MacDonald and many others, have reached deals for specials on the streaming service, which has also featured breakthrough specials from newer comics as Ali Wong and Rory Scovel. Letterman’s project is not a stand-up special, but it does represent another huge comedy name coming to Netflix, after he was previously associated with another network.
The new Letterman show is a good idea- sounding different enough from the Letterman late-night formula that it will feel like something new. The concept sounds similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee- also now on Netflix- which hasn’t run out of steam after a large amount of seasons- and the small amount of episodes, combined with Letterman’s long tenure in the business- should lead to A-list guests.
Will Letterman be rusty, after nearly three years off the year? Perhaps. But the project is still one worth watching as 2018 approaches.
David Letterman’s Netflix show will debut in 2018.