Wake the neighbors and phone the kids — David Letterman has announced his retirement.
The late-night TV vet will hang up his Top Ten lists and such in 2015, he shared with the audience at the taping of Thursday’s Late Show With David Letterman, to air at 11:35 pm EST (scroll down to watch the announcement).
Letterman said he phoned CBS boss Leslie Moonves “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.’
“I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, 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,” he continued. “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, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up.”
Oddly enough, R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, who is joining tonight’s musical guest Joseph Arthur, broke the news on Twitter.
Letterman’s rise to stardom began in 1978, the year he made the first of 22 appearances on NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (where he would later go on to serve as a regular guest host). The Peacock net eventually gave the comic his own series in the post-Carson timeslot — Late Night with David Letterman — which premiered in 1982 and earned five Emmy awards during its 11-year run. After NBC awarded the Tonight Show hosting gig to Jay Leno following Carson’s retirement in 1992, though, Letterman jumped ship and launched Late Show with David Letterman at CBS the following year — where he’s roosted ever since. In all, Letterman’s shows have been nominated for 67 Emmys, winning 12; he also received a Peabody Award in 1992.
His announcement comes a little more than a month after longtime rival, Jay Leno, handed the Tonight Show reins over to Jimmy Fallon.
In a statement, Moonves said, “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.”