Numerous sources have reported that David Letterman announced during the taping of tonight’s Late Show that he will be retiring in 2015, ending the months of speculation that he would do exactly that after his contract with CBS expires. (Not to mention all those preceding years of speculation.) The announcement is apparently part of Letterman’s broadcast, a special TV moment of the kind we are no longer allowed to have anymore because of Twitter. Tonight’s musical guest, Mike Mills of R.E.M. (sitting in with Joseph Arthur), tweeted that he’d just heard Letterman’s announcement, and this was soon followed by confirmations from CBS News anchor Jeff Glor, CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter, and Variety. So when you hear it from Letterman himself tonight, try to act surprised.
UPDATE: If you don’t want the actual moment to have any impact, Variety has now provided a full transcript of Letterman’s announcement. In it, Letterman confirms that, while there is no precise timetable just yet, “sometime in the not too distant future—2015 for the love of God—Paul and I will be wrapping things up.”
Meanwhile, CBS’s Les Moonves has issued his own statement in a press release:
“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.”
The ensuing months will no doubt be filled with discussion on what non-David Letterman can take the place of this, the network’s only David Letterman. As Variety notes, it’s not immediately clear that Craig Ferguson would inherit his time slot (though Ferguson’s recent move to a much bigger studio had many speculating that he was definitely being groomed to take on a larger role). The great thing is, we now have most of the year to talk about it.
SECOND UPDATE: And now there’s video. You don’t even have to watch the show now!