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While many knew it would happen one day, David Letterman’s announcement that he plans to retire next year still came as a shock to his fans and his colleagues. Now, CBS is left scrambling to find a replacement and there’s also speculation on why Letterman decided to leave television now.
Letterman made the announcement while taping Thursday’s episode of The Late Show, shocking sidekick Paul Shaffer and the audience, who didn’t know if he was serious or joking. He was serious and CBS chief Les Moonves later confirmed the news in an emotional statement.
Now, Hollywood is already putting together a list of names that could replace him. While NBC has its own talent farm system - Saturday Night Live - CBS doesn’t have that luxury, so they’ll have to look on the outside.
The Hollywood Reporter claims that CBS approached former Daily Show correspondent John Oliver about joining their late night line-up. He could have taken over The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson if Ferguson doesn’t extend his contract. Oliver didn’t end up taking the deal, and instead went with HBO, where he will be hosting his own topical comedy show.
Other names that have been thrown around include Ellen DeGeneres and Conan O’Brien, who might be interested in joining a broadcast network again. Ferguson should be considered a possibility, even though his humor might not click with the 11:30 audiences. Chelsea Handler is also possible, since she’s supposedly leaving E! this year.
Sources for Fox News say that Letterman decided to retire partly because he saw how Jimmy Fallon has dominated the ratings since taking over NBC’s Tonight Show. Jimmy Kimmel has also been a hit for ABC. Letterman was the last of the ‘old guard’ and will leave behind a much younger late night landscape.