David Letterman is retiring from CBS in 2015, when his current contract expires. CBS confirmed the news after Letterman announced it during the taping of the “Late Show” earlier today at New York’s Ed Sullivan Theater.
While Letterman did not cite a specific end date, he told his audience he thinks it will be in ‘‘at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future — 2015, for the love of God, (band leader) Paul (Shaffer) and I will be wrapping things up.’’
Referring to CBS chairman Leslie Moonves as ‘‘the man who owns this network,’’ Letterman said, ‘‘I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you've been great, and the network has been great, but I'm retiring.’ ’’
He also thanked ‘‘all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much.
‘‘What this means now,’’ he joked, ‘‘is that Paul and I can be married.’’
Moonves said 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.”
The 66-year-old talk show host is the longest-running late-night talk show host in US television history with 32 years on air since he first debuted “Late Night With David Letterman” in 1982 on NBC. He then moved to CBS in 1993. He began his TV career in 1978 on CBS’ “Mary,” a variety series starring Mary Tyler Moore.
The news of Letterman’s retirement comes after Jimmy Fallon replaced Jay Leno as host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC in February. Meanwhile, Seth Meyers took Fallon’s place as host of “Late Night.” One possible successor to Letterman is Craig Ferguson, host of ‘‘The Late Late Show,” but no names have been officially mentioned as replacement possibilities.