“I have too much respect for Dave to do anything that would distract viewers from watching his final show,” Kimmel told the Times in an e-mail. “Plus, I’ll probably be crying all day, which makes it hard to work.”
While new episodes of Kimmel will air the rest of that week, the host is so far Letterman’s only competitor in the 11:30 p.m. time slot to bow out on the 20th. Representatives for NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and TBS’ Conan said the shows would air new episodes that week as planned.
While Conan O’Brien won’t be taking the 20th off, the comedian — who not only took over Letterman’s post on NBC’s Late Night in 1993, but also famously lost The Tonight Show to Jay Leno — recently penned a touching tribute to Letterman for Entertainment Weekly, calling The Late Show “that rare phenomenon: a big, fat show-business hit that seemingly despised show business.”
Letterman has been trotting out the big names in preparation for his final episode of The Late Show including John Fogerty, Future Islands (last year’s viral favorites who premiered their new song, “Haunted by You”), Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Martin and both Michelle and Barack Obama.
Letterman recently opened up about the highs and lows of his lengthy career in late night in a new cover story for Rolling Stone. The host also spoke about his decision to retire, which was partly helped along by Leno’s departure from the Tonight Show: “I know it must have been hard for him,” Letterman said, adding he called up his longtime rival when he heard the news. “I said, ‘Jay, are you actually retiring?’ 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.”