Paris Hilton recalls 'cruel, painful' 2007 David Letterman interview

Paris had just been released from prison and says Letterman set out to humiliate her.
March 2, 2021 9:10 a.m. EST
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Ever since the NY Times documentary Framing Britney Spears (stream now on Crave) was released, it has sparked a cultural conversation about the way media and society treat women in the news, especially during the early aughts. Now, Paris Hilton, who was arguably the most famous socialite of the 2000s (she regularly partied with Kim Kardashian, Britney, Lindsay Lohan, and Nicole Ritchie), is speaking out against that infamous 2007 interview with David Letterman where he pressed her to speak about her time in jail.

After spending three weeks in jail for driving with a suspended license that same year, Paris appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, which she says in the latest episode of her documentary companion podcast, This is Paris, that she only agreed to upon condition that her jail term not be mentioned.

“Letterman’s team kept calling my PR team to have me be on the show, and we kept saying no,” she said in conversation with her sister Nicky Hilton on the episode that went live Monday, March 1st.  

“And then, months later, I had a fragrance coming out, and his team called again, and basically my PR team made an agreement with them that [jail] was off-limits and he would not discuss it and we would only be there to promote the perfume and my other business ventures,” she continued.

“I felt like it was a safe place because I’d been going on Letterman for so many years, and he’d always have fun with me and joke around, but I thought he would keep his word on this, and I was wrong.”

The 13-year-old interview, which has since resurfaced online, shows Letterman not wasting any time asking the “Stars Are Blind” singer and star of The Simple Life if she liked jail, which garners a huge smattering of laughter from the audience. After Paris says it was a traumatic experience, Letterman continues to press her and the ins and outs of jail, like what kind of breakfast was served, and adds that her The Simple Life costar Nicole Ritchie also served a short prison sentence.

"I was just getting so uncomfortable and I was so upset," Paris recalled. "Just being up there, it was like he was purposefully trying to humiliate me. And during commercial breaks I'd look at him, like please stop doing this. You promised me you wouldn't talk about this and that's the only reason I agreed to come on the show."

“And he’s like, ‘OK.’ And then [he did] again.”

Paris goes on in the conversation with her sister to say that, like Britney Spears and others, the way the media treated young women in the early aughts was sexist and wouldn’t have happened to a man. Saying she felt “targeted,” she continued, "I would see that with myself, with Britney [Spears], Jessica Simpson. There was a certain type of girl they targeted that they'd never do that to a man."

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Looking back at the incident, Paris is still clearly hurt by her treatment. "It was just very cruel and very mean. And after it ended I looked at him and I said, ‘I'm never coming on the show again. You've crossed the line.’"

“I didn’t tell him off because I’m not that type of person, but I got angry,” she said. “And then he was apologizing and, like, sent a case of Château Lafite Rothschild wine to our house.”

Paris ultimately did return to the show, appearing with Letterman five more times before he retired.

Letterman has yet to respond to Paris’s revelations in her latest podcast episode, though in recent years, he has made some effort to apologize for bad behaviour that occurred on his show and behind the scenes. In 2019, he apologized to a former comedy writer from his show for sexual favouritism after she wrote about her experiences in Vanity Fair. Looks like he's due for another one.

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