I’m a proud Yankee-hater, but even so, I’m dreading the fawning media coverage and purple prose that’ll be devoted to this farewell tour even more than I’m dreading it for the Derek Jeter farewell tour. You know why? Because Jeter really was a great player, whereas this guy’s been batting .220 since about 1995.
He did, however, inspire the glorious Norm MacDonald parody of “Late Show” on SNL ages ago, and for that we must always be grateful.
“The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance. And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring,’” Letterman said according to a transcript issued by his PR rep.
“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 the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much. What this means now, is that Paul and I can be married.
“We don’t have the timetable for this precisely down – I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future, 2015 for the love of God, in fact, Paul and I will be wrapping things up.”
Entertainment Weekly wondered a year ago, almost to the day, whether Letterman would soon follow Leno out the door. He’s a few years older, after all, and the new late-night competition in Fallon, Kimmel, and Meyers is conspicuously younger. He could have stuck around and targeted an older audience while the rest fought over young adults with Stewart and Colbert, but back when I was in grade school, Letterman was the guy who was known as “edgier” than the usual late-night fare. Maybe he couldn’t stomach the thought of transitioning from that to playing overtly to grandmas in his golden years.
And so the question arises: Who’ll handle the stale-recurring-gag-and-celebrity-logrolling duties for CBS at 11:35 now? Hmmmmm:
NYT reports CBS's most prominent Scotsman has a"Prince of Wales" clause giving him right to Late Show slot pic.twitter.com/NziejB7Bpn
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) April 3, 2014
Ace likes Ferguson. I’ve only seen him a few times but he’s an appealing guy. Another thought from Tapper:
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 3, 2014
That would be splashy, and it would follow the late-night tradition of keeping hosts on the air for decades at a time. Figure Conan, who’s been hosting shows after 11 p.m. for fully 20 years now, will do at least another 10 if he takes over for Dave. Then whoever’s hosting Weekend Update at the time will be ready to take over for him until 2055 or whatever.
There’s always Jon Stewart, of course, but why would he leave “The Daily Show”? He’s more influential than any of the broadcast network late-night hosts, and if he landed on CBS, there’d be pressure on him to revert to ye olde monologue-and-movie-star-interview format that was prescribed for American late-night television on the tablets handed down to Moses. What does he get from following Dave except a tiny bit of “major network” prestige?
Oh well. At least the inevitable Leno cameo in Letterman’s final show will be fun.