Once upon a time, Jay Leno and David Letterman were bitter rivals who fought to lure audiences to their respective talk shows.
Despite the feud that reportedly existed between the two titans of late night, the Tonight Show host said he’s still a fan of Letterman. During Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen’s appearance on the program, Leno addressed the legendary rivalry.
According to Deadline, David Letterman still occasionally makes jokes about Jay Leno and the trouble he’s experienced behind-the-scenes at The Tonight Show. Despite these barbs, the two talk show hosts were recently in contact with one another.
“People think [David] Letterman and I don’t like each other. We actually do. We started out together, he still makes me laugh as much as anybody, he and Seinfeld still make me laugh. Brilliant wordsmith. There’s this sort of conception — you know, the tabloids. But we don’t,” Jay Leno explained.
The Tonight Show host was famously selected by legendary host Johnny Carson to take over his position on the iconic program back in 1992. David Letterman was also up for the job, though he ultimately lost out to his rival. The beef would later inspire the 1996 HBO flick The Late Shift.
Despite the rumored feud, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Oprah Winfrey taped an advertisement for The Late Show back in 2010. The pair reportedly hadn’t seen one another in several years when they go together to shoot the promo.
The host joked during his Jay Leno Show monologue shortly after the spot aired:
“Letterman and I hadn’t seen each other in 18 years. We’d lost touch. He found me on Facebook. He made a friend request, I accepted… Things are going so well between us, we’re going to go to the Vancouver Olympics and compete in the two-man luge.”
Once he’d finished joking about the situation, Entertainment Weekly reported that Leno sat down and discussed the true story behind the Late Show commercial. To keep his involvement a secret, Leno said he showed up to the shoot in disguise.
“I see Dave, we shake hands, and… it was great to see my old friend again. We talked about the old days; it was really good to see him. The next day an NBC executive calls and says, ‘Jay, we have a problem. We think Dave shot some kind of secret show,'” Leno said.
Are you surprised that Jay Leno and David Letterman are still friends after all these years?