David Letterman stunned his audience by announcing he planned to retire in 2015 when his current contract runs out. Seismic shifts continue in the talk show landscape.
The big question is: “Who will take over when Dave is gone?” Craig Ferguson has a clause that makes him the successor if Dave steps down… but that contract expires THIS YEAR. The Ferguson faithful have heard him discuss a stint hosting a new game show, and saw him guest host The Price Is Right on April Fool’s day. I wondered if that was an indication of Craig’s plans for the future, but with this bombshell, I’m going to assume that Letterman (no fool when it comes to negotiating with the networks) let Craig know what was going on some time ago & Craig is looking at a potential exit from CBS altogether… or Craig & Drew Carey might know the network would rather have someone like Drew on at 11:30 and the April Fool’s swap was a tryout of sorts.
Ferguson isn’t a good fit for 11:30. Like Letterman and Conan before him, he’s better suited to be weird and casual in the later time slot. Hosting the Late Show would sour his humor. But who will take Letterman’s place? The favorite used to be Jon Stewart, but he’s become too serious of late. Stephen Colbert and John Oliver would be great 12:30 hosts, but would also have to tone it down for the CBS crowd. John Oliver is better getting his own HBO show, and Colbert should stay where he is.
Has Conan been cooling his heels on TBS until this happens? OR… how about this…
My theory: if Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants produces The Late Show with Jay Leno, Dave wins, gets paid, and can give the finger to NBC for screwing him over one more time.