CBS CEO Leslie Moonves asked Neil Patrick Harris if he’d be interested in doing a late-night show for CBS, Harris said today on Howard Stern’s radio show. The conversation happened before David Letterman announced he is retiring next year but as CBS already was looking at a possible future without Letterman, should Dave decide not to renew his two-year contract. The conversation also happened as Harris’ How I Met Your Mother gig was winding down. Harris has become a member in good standing of the Les Moonves Repertoire Theatre, not only starring in HIMYM but also becoming a CBS go-to guy for trophy-show hosting. Harris stressed to Stern that he was “not in conversation like about-to-make-a-deal — but they called me in and sat me down and asked if it was something I’d be interested in, because I have a good relationship with them from How I Met Your Mother.“
Harris’ reaction when the subject was broached in a meeting with Moonves and CBS programming chief Nina Tassler? “I felt like I knew what my skill set was and what I wanted to do after the show, with them. It surprised me [Moonves] pitched me that idea. I sat for a time with it while I was talking to him, and I told him what concerned me about the longevity of that kind of gig. I think I would get bored of the repetition fast. The structure is so set — I don’t have any interest in doing Monologue, Commercial, Sketch, Guest, Guest, Musical Act, Good Night.”
When Stern asked if he would have preferred Craig Ferguson‘s 12:30 AM time slot, which might have been a little more flexible structure-wise, Harris responded that it still has the repetition problem, and in the later time slot “now you’re just getting bitter that nobody’s watching it.” Harris also told Stern that what he really wants to do next is host a weekly variety show for CBS.
“Was [Moonves] interested?” Stern asked.
“Yeah — he still might be,” Harris said.
And yet, nobody’s headline today reads: CBS Discussing Variety Series With Neil Patrick Harris. Instead, it’s all:
Neil Patrick Harris Declined Letterman’s Job
Neil Patrick Harris Was Offered Late-Night Gig On CBS
Neil Patrick Harris Had A Shot At The Late Show Hosting Gig
Neil Patrick Harris Tells Howard Stern He Declined To Take Over CBS Late-Night Show