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Letterman sits for first interview in six years

Letterman sits for first interview in six years. The late-night wiseacre will prove there are no hard feelings on ”Nightline” spinoff next month, when Dave helps Ted Koppel launch new show

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David Letterman
David Letterman: Christopher Little/CBS

Next month, David Letterman will be competing against himself. For the first episode of Ted Koppel’s new post-”Nightline” interviews-and-profiles show, debuting the second week in July, viewers will be able to switch over from Dave’s show on CBS to see Dave as Ted’s inaugural guest, the New York Times reports. Not only is Letterman granting quite a favor to his late-night rival, but he’s giving him quite a ”get” as well, since Letterman hasn’t granted an interview in six years.

Despite their competing shows, Koppel owes his job to Letterman, since the comic chose not to take Koppel’s job away by accepting ABC’s offer earlier this year. Responding to both the offer and to an unnamed ABC exec who questioned ”Nightline”’s relevance in an age of 24-hour Web and cable news, Letterman praised Koppel on the air in March, saying ”Nightline” should air forever, and promised Koppel over the phone he’d grant him an interview. Now that ”Nightline: Up Close” is about to launch, replacing the canceled ”Politically Incorrect” (at least until Jimmy Kimmel’s comedy show debuts in the post-”Nightline” timeslot in January), Letterman is keeping his word.

The gesture shows that there are no hard feelings between the two late-night personalities or the staffs of their shows, ”Nightline” producer Tom Bettag tells the Times. ”Dave and Ted like each other a lot. That’s why this is happening,” he says. In fact, Koppel will return the favor by appearing on Letterman’s ”Late Show” that same week.

Asked why Letterman hasn’t given any interviews since 1996, his producer Rob Burnett tells the Times, ”He feels he has an hour each night to talk, and he can do all the talking about himself that he wants to do there.”