David Letterman, longtime host of television's "The Late Show" on CBS, will retire from the network in 2015, when his current contract expires.
He discussed his plans to leave during the taping of his show on Thursday. Letterman representatives released the following in a statement:
“The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And 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,’” said Letterman.
Moonves confirmed the news in a statement:
“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. 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. 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.”
Letterman's announcement initially leaked out when a performer, Mike Mills, who was at the taping of "The Late Show" tweeted out the news. "Dave just announced his retirement," Mills wrote.
Letterman, 66, began hosting the show on CBS in August 1993, after leaving the rival NBC network, where he had hosted the "Late Night with David Letterman" show for many years.
News of Letterman's plans to retire came nearly two months after Jay Leno bid farewell as host of NBC's "The Tonight Show," a job Leno assumed in 1992 in a highly publicized succession of Johnny Carson that led to Letterman's defection from NBC.