It is not exactly a secret that Jimmy Kimmel has an immense amount of respect for David Letterman. He has long name-checked him as one of his personal heroes, and getting to interview him on an episode of his show when he took it to Brooklyn was the culmination of a lifelong dream.
Now, Kimmel is putting his money precisely where his mouth is when it comes to paying tribute to his network competitor when he closes his version of “The Late Show” on May 20. As Kimmel told the New York Times via email, he ultimately has a really simple reason as to why he does not want to run against Dave:
“I have too much respect for Dave to do anything that would distract viewers from watching his final show … Plus, I’ll probably be crying all day, which makes it hard to work.”
One thing that is especially important to remember here when it comes to what Kimmel is doing is that this decision is not necessarily that ideal for ABC. This is May sweeps, which is when ratings mean so much to networks. The executives letting Kimmel have this night off is a sign of good faith with him as much as it is anything else, since they could have easily tried to force him into doing a show on the night, even if he did not want to.
Letterman’s finale should be one of the most-watched shows in the history of CBS late-night. While he has definitely had his controversial moments, we’d say that he as a whole is much more universally-liked than Jay Leno was at the time of his exit.