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'Late Show' renewal: Will this be David Letterman's last deal?
David Letterman has formally re-upped with CBS through 2014, which means he will have spent 24 years at the network and a total of 32 years in late night. Which also means ... come on ... you know what it also means: Letterman will surpass his idol, Johnny Carson, as the reigning champ of late night, in terms of longevity.
Craig Ferguson also re-upped, and now would be the time to take those bets that he'll replace Dave one of these days.
“David Letterman is a late-night legend with an iconic show and Craig Ferguson continues to evolve the genre in exciting and innovative ways,” said Nina Tassler, president, CBS Entertainment. “These new agreements deliver ongoing high-quality entertainment for our audience and continued strength and stability for CBS in late night.”
Now, to the question of the future: Dave turns 65 next week (Thursday to be exact), and he has hinted in the past that he would not be going much beyond this. (Of course, Letterman has been mostly joking about retirement since he was 30.) As a late-night host, he pretty much remains the second-greatest late night guy in TV history, or depending on which nights you care to choose, he even surpasses Carson. He does this night after night (Fridays off), week after week (with plenty of those off, too) and remains sharp, funny and a very competent interviewer.
Carson actually agreed to the "Tonight" gig exactly 50 -- 50! -- years ago this month but would start in October 1962. He would the leave show (May 22, 1992) the year he turned 67.
Which of course begs this question: Does Dave plan to step down in 2014 when he is also 67?
Letterman might see some sort of lovely poetic symmetry in that number; also, he knows of course that he never came close to surpassing Johnny's record: Johnny was 30 years at "Tonight;" Dave has been 22 years at "Late Show."
In any event, today's long awaited news is very good news indeed. None of us -- certainly not me -- is ready to say goodbye, and who knows if we ever will be.