LETTER-MAN PERFECT! LEGEND BACK ON BOX
Talk show legend David Letterman is cooler than ever and ready to return to Netflix for a limited series. GETTY
NELSON BRANCO & JOSH WEINSTEIN/ 24 HOURS
That didn't take long: After a two-year hiatus, revered talk show host David Letterman is back.
The former Emmy-winning host of CBS's The Late Show is releasing a new talk show exclusively on Netflix set to be released in 2018.
The still-unnamed series will span six episodes, all of which will be approximately 60 minutes long.
Why now? You can probably thank today's heated political discourse now that Donald Trump and his administration are making half-hourly headlines.
Even The Daily Show's former master of ceremonies Jon Stewart is back behind the microphone - for two HBO specials - desperate to cash in on the gold mine that is Trump and comment on the record regarding the White House malfunction.
Moreover, while interviewing Tina Fey for The Hollywood Reporter in December, the now 70-year-old Letterman revealed he'd been "feeling anxious" since retiring.
"I find, since I don't have a show anymore, I can't stop talking," Letterman added.
Letterman's long-awaited return to the small screen will feature in-house interviews of guests, as well as coverage of topics outside a studio setting.
"David Letterman is a true television icon. I can't wait to see him out in the wild, out from behind the desk and interviewing the people he finds most interesting," said Netflix exec Ted Sarandos.
"We'll have to see if he keeps the beard," Sarandos quipped.
Unlike Letterman's Late Night and Late Show gigs from decades past, each episode of the new series will be pre-recorded. Letterman boasts plenty of experience with live-to-tape and edited content, having starred in numerous movies and television shows over the years.
"I feel lucky to be working on this project for Netflix," said Letterman, who has hosted over 6,000 episodes of daytime and late-night talk shows for over three decades.
And you can thank Letterman's family for giving the Johnny Carson protégé the thumbs up.
"Here's what I have learned," the king of pet tricks explained. "If you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first. I got tired of people asking me what I wanted to do! The best part? This new gig isn't 10 hours a day, five days a week."
Letterman's dream guest list? Along with Pope Francis, Letterman tells Variety, "I'd like to talk to President Trump. I've known the guy for 30 years. I'd like to just ask him about the change in him as a man, where did it come from, how did it begin and where is it going."
Will Letterman's streaming debut be as successful as his NBC and CBS runs? Pop culture expert and 24 Hours contributor Shinan Govani doesn't see why not.
"He has nothing to prove, and even less to lose," Govani offers. "If - through this - he gets to reach a jazzy new demographic and gets to play a bit with the medium, that's terrific. If it doesn't amount to much, it will go down as a late-in-life lark - a lark likely being the only thing that gets Letterman out of bed these days."
24 Hours TV critic Denette Wilford agrees but adds that Netflix might need Letterman more than he needs the streaming giant.
Wilford speculates, "Letterman is always welcome back to TV but Netflix might serve his interview style better than CBS did. In fact, Chelsea Handler's show, Chelsea, is decent but not making enough of an impact so Netflix might be looking for more shows or hosts with buzz."
(At one point, Handler was a rumoured frontrunner to replace Letterman on CBS, but she told 24 Hours during a recent interview the talks didn't go anywhere because she wasn't interested, leading to Stephen Colbert nabbing the coveted job.)
But let's face it, as Wilford remind us, "As long as he keeps the beard - that thing needs its own chair! - people will tune in."