Stephen Colbert Swears the Daft Punk Fiasco, and His MTV Bashing, Wasn't a Stunt

"I'm the guy who's completely screwed here," he says in lengthy podcast interview

stephen colbert, daft punk, the colbert report, mtv vmas
Stephen Colbert Photo by Getty Images
Kyle McGovern WRITTEN BY
Kyle McGovern

Stephen Colbert has explained why Daft Punk failed to show up on The Colbert Report on August 6. Giving a nearly hour-long interview on The Paul Mecurio Show, a podcast hosted by the comedian and writer for The Daily Show, Colbert clarifies that the fiasco was in fact not a publicity stunt as many speculated.

As Pitchfork points out, the talk show host confirms that the Random Access Memories duo was booked to appear on air, but they were not going to perform or take part in an interview. "Whatever we did would have to be in the confines of them not doing their music and not also talking," Colbert says. "The Daft Punk guys actually had some funny ideas on how to do it." 

MTV reportedly pulled the plug at the last minute, citing Daft Punk's scheduled "surprise" appearance on the August 25 Video Music Awards as a conflict and violation of an exclusivity agreement. Colbert explains he received word that the segment wasn't going to happen the morning it was supposed to be filmed. "We didn't really know until one o'clock day of," he says, noting that the "Get Lucky" video starring him, Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, and more had already been planned. 

"It's always on some level a mystery to me," Colbert says. "MTV says they had an exclusive arrangement, the Daft Punk people said they never had an exclusive arrangement... They kind of are both telling the truth because I think there's some sort of reasonable implication from MTV that, 'Well, they don't do TV. And we had them, how are we to know that the only time they're doing TV they're also doing another thing at the same time,' even though it's three weeks out." 

Robin Thicke, whose pre-taped performance did appear on the August 6 broadcast, is also scheduled to perform at the VMAs. According to Colbert, MTV initially tried to prevent the Blurred Lines singer from gracing the Comedy Central program, but eventually made an exception. "It's traditional within the month leading up to the VMAs that you don't do other shows," Colbert explains. "I guess Daft Punk was one toke over the line." And once the robots were removed the equation, Colbert reworked the show to take MTV to task — and Comedy Central approved the script. 

But VMAs executive producer Jesse Ignjatovic claims that Daft Punk and their management chose to skip The Colbert Report. "We don't put restrictions on anyone," he recently told the Hollywood Reporter. "I just think that we're talking to them about a moment and then things sort of change. I would not describe that as MTV putting restrictions on people — it was up to that artist and their management what they wanted to do." 

Hear Colbert's whole interview with Paul Mecurio by streaming the podcast below. The Daft Punk talk begins at around the 24:00 mark.

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