A little over two years after David Letterman commenced his retirement, the talk-show host has announced his return to the small screen for a limited Netflix series. Premiering in 2018, the as-yet-untitled program, which will come out as six, hour-long installments, will find the host interviewing one guest each episode, as well as comedy and “curiosity” bits outside of the studio.
“I feel excited and lucky to be working on this project for Netflix,” the host said in a statement. “Here’s what I have learned: If you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first. Thanks for watching, drive safely.”
“David Letterman is a true television icon, and I can’t wait to see him out in the wild, out from behind the desk and interviewing the people he finds most interesting,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said. “We’ll have to see if he keeps the beard.”
Between hosting Late Night on NBC and The Late Show on CBS, Letterman spent more than three decades hosting late-night television, making him the longest-running late-night broadcaster in U.S. history. The final episode of The Late Show aired in May 2015.
Although Letterman went into retirement, spending time with his wife and son, he has continued to pop up here and there on television. Two months after the final show, he gave a Trump-themed Top Ten list during one of Martin Short and Steve Martin’s stage show. He appeared in a Darlene Love video. He appeared in National Geographic’s climate-change series Years of Living Dangerously. He inducted Pearl Jam into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And he accepted the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.
Comparatively, Johnny Carson spent his years following his 1992 retirement from three decades hosting The Tonight Show in relative privacy, voicing himself on The Simpsons, appearing in the documentary Pitch People and occasionally appearing as a guest on Letterman’s show. His successor, Jay Leno, who retired from the Tonight Show in 2014, has since gone on to host his own car-themed series, Jay Leno’s Garage, on CNBC and appear on other shows.
In a March interview with New York magazine, Letterman said he has not watched his Late Show replacement, Stephen Colbert, at all. “People tell me nice things about Seth Meyers, that he’s good and thoughtful,” Letterman said. “I’m aware that Stephen has been able to solidify his position [in the wake of Trump], or — having not seen the show, I don’t know what the situation was prior. I can’t say much about these shows, because I just don’t watch them.”