The streaming video giant announced Tuesday that the former CBS “Late Show” host has signed on to do a six-episode talk show that will premiere in 2018.
It will be Letterman's first series since retiring from late-night TV in May 2015 after a 33-year run across two networks. The 70-year-old comic’s only TV job since has been as host of an episode of National Geographic Channel’s “Years of Living Dangerously.”
“I feel excited and lucky to be working on this project for Netflix,” Letterman 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.”
In the new series, which does not yet have a name, Letterman will conduct one in-depth interview with a guest per hourlong episode and will appear in segments produced outside a studio setting.
The show is being produced by RadicalMedia, which made the Netflix documentary “What Happened, Miss Simone?” and special “Oh, Hello on Broadway,” and by Letterman’s company Worldwide Pants.
It's the second significant deal for Netflix announced this week. On Monday, Netflix announced its acquisition of comic book publisher Millarworld, giving the company access to the characters and franchises for future programming.
The terms of Letterman’s deal with Netflix were not disclosed. But the free-spending Netflix has been stockpiling A-list comic talent. It poached Jerry Seinfeld’s Emmy-winning series “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” after that series gained popularity on Sony’s Crackle. Netflix reportedly spent $100 million in a pact that included two stand-up specials. Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer and Chris Rock have all landed lucrative deals for their next stand-up specials on Netflix.
Since leaving CBS in May 2015, Letterman has largely retreated to his home in Montana. He has been considering numerous projects but none that would have put him back in the nightly grind of late-night TV. Successful late-night stars tend to take a lower profile after they walk away from their desks and sofas.
Letterman’s longtime late-night rival Jay Leno has largely limited his post-“Tonight Show” TV activity to a CNBC series, “Jay Leno’s Garage." Former Comedy Central host Jon Stewart has a production deal with HBO, and a stand-up special was recently announced, but he has yet to get a project on the air for the premium cable service. Letterman’s idol Johnny Carson only did a voice for “The Simpsons” after leaving NBC’s “The Tonight Show.”
"Just meeting David Letterman was a thrill; imagine how exciting it is for me to announce that we will be working together," Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “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. We’ll have to see if he keeps the beard.”