David Letterman Reveals Why Oprah Hated Him

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Talkshow host Oprah Winfrey (L) is escorted by fellow talkshow host David Letterman to the opening night of Winfrey's Broadway play "The Color Purple" in New York December 1, 2005. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

Is there a more insular job than that of talk show host? To wit: David Letterman telling Jon Stewart the truth behind the Oprah Winfrey feud.

For those of you who are curious, the supposed origin of the Letterman-Winfrey spat stems from his disastrous hosting of the 1995 Oscars, where one of the opening gags riffed on the similarity between actress Uma Thurman’s first name to Oprah (“Oprah, Uma. Uma, Oprah”). But they buried the hatchet in 2005 when Winfrey went on his show for the first time in sixteen years, smiling sweetly and proclaiming ignorance throughout. (See TIME’s Top 10 TV feuds)

Yet Letterman has reopened the can of worms by telling his guest last night, Jon Stewart, that the tension pre-dates the Oscars and goes back to a prank he pulled on Oprah while they were coincidentally at the same vacation spot with their partners. During lunch with his then-girlfriend, Letterman decided to tell the waiter that, “this woman right over there has been kind enough to take care of our check.” Letterman said that he then waved to Oprah upon leaving the restaurant. “We got a free lunch and that’s where it started,” he told a rather bemused Stewart (who presumably only went on to plug his new book).

Is Oprah going to retaliate? Will Letterman offer to buy her lunch? Does anyone truly care? All we can say with any certainty is that there’s no way Johnny Carson would have ever acted like this.

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