The following is from the September 21, 1998, issue of New York magazine.
When I -- somewhat naïvely -- ask him whether he's friendly with the man he succeeded as host of NBC's Late Night, O'Brien shakes his head. "I really don't know Dave very well," he says. "When I first got the show, he called me up. There's a formality about him. Sort of an old-world gentility. He said, 'I'm not sure we've met. Have we met?' And I said, 'No, we haven't really met, Dave.' He was very nice. And at the end of the conversation -- I just couldn't help it, because he's such a big influence and everything -- I said the thing you're not supposed to. You know, 'It meant so much to me that you called; I'm a huge fan of your --' and I don't think I even got to finish the sentence. He said, 'Well, that's not why I called.'"