Get ready for more upheaval in the late-night world: David Letterman says he’ll retire from CBS in 2015.
The “Late Show” host told his audience at a taping Thursday (April 3) that he’ll step down from the show next year (when his current contract ends). CBS has yet to release a statement on Letterman’s comments, but news filtered out through social media. The initial source, oddly enough, appears to be R.E.M. bass player Mike Mills, who’s due to play with musical guest Joseph Arthur on Thursday’s show. He tweeted the news from backstage.
Per a statement from his representative, Letterman told the studio audience Thursday that he spoke with CBS CEO Les Moonves about retiring just before Thursday’s taping. “I said, ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great and the network has been great, but I’m retiring.
“I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, of all the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on staff, everybody at home, thank you very much. What this means now, is that Paul [Shaffer] and I can be married.
“We don’t have the timetable for this precisely down — I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future.”
The audience gave Letterman a standing ovation during the announcement, which comes about two months after Jay Leno left “The Tonight Show.” Leno’s hiring at NBC instigated Letterman’s move to CBS, where “The Late Show” debuted in 1993.
“When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer, but that doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us,” Moonves says in a statement. “For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our network’s air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium.
“During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events. He’s also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes — including me. There is only one David Letterman. His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business.
“… It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. Fortunately, we won’t have to do that for another year or so. Until then, we look forward to celebrating Dave’s remarkable show and incredible talents.”