With audience members being asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and to leave their phones at the studio door, David Letterman's still-untitled Netflix series is shrouded in secrecy. With an assist from local press reports and twitter sightings, here's what we know so far.
When it was announced last August that David Letterman would be hosting a new six-episode series on Netflix, much was made of the late night legend's return to series television following his 2015 retirement from the Late Show.
At the time, Netflix revealed very little about the new series, saying only that it would premiere sometime in 2018, and that each episode would feature a long form interview with an "extraordinary" person, paired with field segments that would see Letterman exploring various topics outside of the studio.
Just who would qualify as an extraordinary guest was an immediate source of speculation, with Letterman himself adding fuel to the fire when he listed Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un as two dream guests for the new show. (Oh, and Pope Francis, too.)
Beyond that, Letterman is keeping a lid on exactly what we can expect on his Netflix series.
He seemed to avoid directly answering all questions about the content of the show in two lengthy sit-down interviews -- first on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show in August and then on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in October. (He did, however, invite Stern to appear on a future episode. It's not clear whether Stern has accepted.)
It should come as no surprise then, that when word of Letterman's first taping on Oct 12 leaked out, the first question was who was his guest? Amazingly -- perhaps miraculously in this day and age -- the answer to that question remains something of a mystery to this day. This, despite the fact that the interview was taped before an audience of 250 people at LA's Nate Holden Performing Arts Theater.
How Netflix and Letterman's producing partner Radical Media managed to keep the guest's identity a secret may be tied to the fact that audience members were required to sign non-disclosure agreements at the door. Cellphones, too, were strictly forbidden.
For those looking for clues, there's this blurry photo that appears to show a familiar-looking bearded man with George Clooney, photographed the day before the LA taping, apparently outside an area In-N-Out Burger:
Creepin on George Clooney while he’s eating some in n out ?????? pic.twitter.com/WlfIGKvruX— melisss?? (@roaomg_) October 11, 2017
And then there's this TMZ report from earlier this week that Barack Obama is rumored to have been the LA mystery guest. Netflix has yet to confirm or deny either report.
Two weeks later, on October 27th, Letterman was captured entering the Afro Deli in St Paul, Minnesota to shoot another segment for the show, where he was joined by his old friend Al Franken and Minnesota State Rep. Ilhan Omar.
David Letterman sighting in St Paul. Shooting possibly his Netflix series. Sen Franken walked in later. pic.twitter.com/beBRMo9Q7S— Ted Johnsen (@TedAtTheNews) October 27, 2017
According to one local press report, the segment's focus was the restaurant's owner, Abdirahman Kahin, an immigrant from Djibouti whose success has come to represent the promise of Minnesota's large population of Somali immigrants. (Kahin previously accompanied Franken to President Obama's 2016 State of the Union speech.)
From left: Muna Abdullahi, Sen. Al Franken, Afro Deli owner Abdirahman Kahin, David Letterman, and Afro Deli executive chef Moussa Doualeh (Photo: Afro Deli)
It's not known whether the segment the group shot at the Afro Deli will see the light of day. Three weeks after it was taped, Franken was accused of inappropriate contact with several women, ultimately leading to his resignation from the Senate earlier this month. (Franken's appearance at Letterman's Mark Twain Prize ceremony in November was snipped out at the last minute when the allegations against him broke days before its airing)
Letterman again made headlines in early November, when he was spotted filming another segment for the show, this time with civil rights leader Rep John Lewis on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
According to an article in the Selma Times Journal, the show's film permit indicated the episode being filmed would focus on the voting rights movement. (Letterman and Lewis also apparently shot inside Selma's Voting Rights Museum.)
You can’t really be alive in this county or any place in the world and not know of [Selma],” Letterman told the Selma Times Journal. “It’s iconic. It’s historic. Something breathtaking happened here. The level of change and the level of positive change that this place represents is remarkable.”
Finally, just this week TMZ caught Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai outside the taping of another episode of the series at New York's Symphony Space. Asked how the show went, she responded "it was great." Later, the TMZ crew asked Letterman what other guests he had on tap. His response: "How about you?"
To date, Netflix hasn't made any official comment on the series' guests, or even its name (the show's ticketing partner 1iota continues to refer to it as the "New David Letterman Series").
As for a release date, that too is unclear. In its original announcements about the show, Netflix only said it would be released sometime in 2018, but one audience member at the show's first taping let slip on Facebook that producers told attendees that the plan is for the show to premiere as early as next month.
TOPICS: My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, Netflix, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Show with David Letterman, Abdirahman Kahin, Al Franken, Barack Obama, David Letterman, George Clooney, Howard Stern, Ilhan Omar, John Lewis, Malala Yousafzai, Moussa Doualeh, The Howard Stern Show