David Letterman, host of the “Late Show”, announced his retirement during the taping of the April 3 episode, ending his 21-year run as the host of the show sometime in 2015.
The 66-year old comedian is saying good-bye to the show that he has been such a namesake for since 1982, deciding not to renew his current contract that expires next year. Letterman will be ending one of the most impressive late-night runs ever, and one of the most influential talk shows in television history.
Letterman gave a heartfelt thank you to his fans while taping the night’s show: “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 of the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much.”
While this announcement may be saddening to many fans of Letterman and the show, there is a positive way to look at this. With most of this year and an undetermined amount of time in next year’s line-up, we will have plenty of time to truly appreciate what he did for not only his own show, but television in general.
The biggest questions that follow this news are concerning the great host’s future replacement. With the lineup of late-night talk show always changing around and stars disappearing at random, it is difficult to pin down who will take over the show.
When Jay Leno left the “Tonight Show” in 2009 and started his own show, Conan O’Brien took Leno’s position as the host. Leno returned to “Tonight Show” in 2010, after O’Brien’s contract was severed. It was then announced that Jimmy Fallon would take over for Leno. After leaving the “Tonight Show”, O’Brien found himself with the opportunity to make his own show, “Conan”. After all that turmoil, Jimmy Fallon was the one who found himself as the new pioneer of late-night television.
With all that being said, who will do it? Who will fill the spot of the great David Letterman? Great comedian-hosts such as Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson, and Jon Stewart are just three of the multiple names put forth by fans in speculation of a successor. While it seems less than likely to happen, Colbert and Stewart being on the same network does raise some interesting speculation on the matter. Ferguson seems the more likely candidate, though, as his show does follow Letterman’s on CBS’ lineup.
While Letterman may not have always carried the best ratings for CBS, or may not have been the most comically on point, there is no denying the huge impact that Letterman has had on late night television. Letterman’s style and the attitude that he brought to the production has become a major contribution to television in general, especially to those such as Fallon and Ferguson.
For those who have never seen an episode of Letterman’s “Late Show”, you still have at least a year to get some viewing in.