By Nellie Andreeva
While his long-term rival Jay Leno is signing off as host of “The Tonight Show” in February, David Letterman is staying put at CBS with a new contract extension that will keep him as host of “Late Show” through 2015, solidifying his position as the doyen of late-night.
“There is only one Dave, and we are extremely proud that he continues to call CBS ‘home,’ ” said CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves.
Added Letterman, “Les and I had a lengthy discussion, and we both agreed that I needed a little more time to fully run the show into the ground. (In an interview with Oprah earlier this year, Letterman said he had an agreement with Moonves that Moonves has to tell him when it is time to go.)
Both Leno and Letterman’s current contracts were up in fall 2014. While Leno’s was cut short by the “Tonight” host transition to Jimmy Fallon, Letterman will add to his tenure as the longest-running late-night talk-show host in television history at 31 years and counting — the last 20 at CBS.
While “The Tonight Show” remains dominant in the late-night ratings with an extra boost from Leno’s pending departure, CBS noted that “Late Show” posted a 5% year-to-year viewership increase during the opening week of the 2013-2014 broadcast season.