It was surprising enough to see David Letterman at the Emmys, making a rare awards show appearance a decade after his Uma-Oprah debacle at the Oscars. It was even more surprising to see Dave totally serious and stiff for the Johnny Carson tribute that had brought him to speak at the Shrine Auditorium.

But most surprising was the apparent acknowledgement by everyone (not just Jon Stewart), that it’s Letterman, not Jay Leno, who’s Carson’s true heir. After all, Leno didn’t speak at the tribute or appear in the clip montage, nor was his name mentioned. (When his name did come up, as a nominee for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program, the hall was strangely silent.) Asked by Entertainment Weekly about Leno’s absence from the tribute, Emmy producer Ken Ehrlich declined to comment, but a Tonight Show publicist told the magazine that the talk-show host was never asked to appear in the segment in the first place.

You can read the full story in the Emmy wrap-up in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly that comes out Friday.

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