First Leno, now Letterman. Legendary late night TV host David Letterman announced Thursday, April 3, during his Late Show taping that he will retire after his contract with CBS expires in 2015.
“We don’t have the timing of this precisely down. It will be, I think, at least a year or so, but sometime in the not-too-distant future — 2014, for the love of God — Paul and I will be wrapping things up and taking a hike,” he said.
Network president and CEO Leslie Moonves also confirmed Letterman’s departure Thursday afternoon in a statement. “When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer,” Moonves said, adding, “but that doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us.”
Letterman is the longest-standing late-night show host in the history of television, setting a record of 31 years. His tenure will include hosting CBS’ Late Show for 22 years and prior to that, 11 years with NBC as the host of Late Night, which is now helmed by Seth Meyers.
“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,” Moonves said. “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.”
Letterman’s tenure was marred by scandal back in 2009, when it was revealed that the married show host had sex with women who worked under him on the program, including his assistant. Letterman opened up to Oprah Winfrey in a 2013 interview about the incident and said, “I have no one to blame but myself.”
“There is only one David Letterman,” Moonves concluded.
“His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business. On a personal note, it’s been a privilege to get to know Dave and to enjoy a terrific relationship. 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.”
Watch Letterman’s announcement above!
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