David Letterman may be planning to leave 'Late Show' in 2013
NEW YORK — Amidst the jokes, laughs and Jay Leno jibes in Thursday night's hugely amusing David Letterman/Howard Stern encounter, there was this bombshell: Letterman says he'll leave "Late Show" in two years.
Letterman's spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday morning, but Letterman's brief response to Stern's question — when will you leave? — was the first time in his long career that he has addressed the question, at least on TV. (He has said he'll finish his career at CBS).
Dave turns 64 this April, which means he'd be leaving — if he does leave — at age 66, when his role model Johnny Carson stepped down.
Here's another question that begs asking: Will Jay Leno leave before then, as many have speculated, giving Dave a chance to go out on top? There has been some internal discussion at NBC about the eventual succession of Leno — yes, Jay will step down some day too — and whether he will be replaced by Jimmy Fallon.
Fallon is very good but there's no doubt he would lose viewers who were more used to Jay's homespun cornbread middle-America humor. Then: Could Dave's numbers surge again, as they did when Conan O'Brien stepped in? That has to be a consideration at CBS too, but may well mean that Dave — if he does leave in two years — could leave on top, just as Johnny did.
How did Johnny announce his retirement? Not in a press release, and I assure you: Dave wants to announce his departure date on his own terms too. Johnny stood on the podium at Carnegie Hall and on a beautiful May day in the early '90s, he said he would step down. It was a mind-blowing moment at NBC — completely blind-sided — but Johnny was gonna do it his way. Dave is gonna do it his way too.