Neil Patrick Harris Declined Letterman's Job Because He'd 'Get Bored'

Current Rolling Stone cover star says he'd rather work on weekly variety show than host 'Late Show' or 'Late Late Show'

Neil Patrick Harris  the late show
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Neil Patrick Harris
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Neil Patrick Harris has revealed that CBS offered him The Late Show following David Letterman's departure. The actor, who is currently naked on the cover of Rolling Stone, met with CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves to discuss the possibility and eventually turned it down, Harris told Howard Stern in a recent broadcast. Stephen Colbert ultimately got the gig and will start once Letterman says his final good night sometime in 2015.

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Although he sat with the idea for a minute, the actor ultimately declined the position because he thought he would "get bored" of the staid format of late-night talk shows. "I don't have any interest in doing 'monologue, commercial, sketch, guest, guest musical act, goodnight,'" he said.

Moonves also offered Harris the hosting position on The Late Late Show, which host Craig Ferguson is leaving, but the actor said he didn't want that either. "It's still nightly," he said. "You're still coming up with the same content and now you're just getting bitter that no one's watching it." Harris chalked the offers up to his "good relationship" with the network from starring on How I Met Your Mother.

Harris spoke about the potential hosting gig in his cover-story interviews with Rolling Stone. "I was flattered that I was kind of being considered," he said. "How exciting to be considered for something like that." When asked if he was in talks with CBS before Colbert took the job, he paused for 20 seconds before saying, "I will respectfully not answer that to not sound at all disrespectful to anyone." In the same interview, Harris said that although he loved Stern, one of his biggest fears about coming out was "being asked really pointed and specific sexual questions on Howard Stern." But his first appearance as an openly gay man showed Harris Stern's tolerance. "Howard is super vocal in a real alpha male way about his opinions which are of utter acceptance on almost all fronts," he said.

Listen to Neil Patrick Harris' conversation with Howard Stern:

Harris told Stern he would prefer to work on a weekly variety show. "I think if it's weekly and people really want to see it – and you trust that there's a lot of really great shit on there – then you're going to get the guests to want to come on your thing. A weekly thing, you'd have more time to prep for stuff. You could do pre-taped stuff that would be really exciting, you could flesh it out a little bit more and have more acts." Harris said Moonves was receptive to the weekly show pitch and that it was still under consideration.

This echoed what he told Rolling Stone when asked about hosting a variety show. "I'm very keen on it being an Ed Sullivan kind of show," said Harris. "Something that would be more events-driven, with a lot more acts, a totally different structure. But nightly – ooh –  there's too much competition. It is just so much work. And I really would worry that the repetition would gnaw at me – I get bored easily. If anyone deserves a chance to shine and really be himself, it's Stephen Colbert: he's the loveliest guy, and really does terrific interviews."

Harris' meeting with Moonves wasn't a total wash, though. "He had sushi brought in," Harris said. "It was fantastic."

On Wednesday, CBS announced that it would not be moving forward with the How I Met Your Mother spinoff How I Met Your Dad, leaving producers to shop it around to other networks. "We tried to work out about redoing the pilot," Tassler added. "That's not happening right now. Sometimes you run into these kind of issues and you hope they can resolve themselves in that time frame. . . I'm heartsick; we loved this brand and we love the producers but it didn't work out."

In other news, Moonves' wife Julie Chen tweeted out a photo of the CBS chief with actor Joel McHale, star of the recently canceled Community, leading to speculation that he would be assuming Ferguson's job, though CBS has not offered any confirmation. McHale currently hosts E!'s The Soup.

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