How Letterman Broke the News to His Staff – and Les Moonves

How Letterman Broke the News to His Staff – and Les Moonves

Longtime “Late Show” employees didn't find out until shortly before Thursday's taping

David Letterman is stepping down from CBS’ “The Late Show” in 2015, and while the whole world knows now, his employees and his boss didn't find out until shortly before Thursday's taping.

Letterman explained that he gave the word to CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves about an hour before the taping began. That conversation didn't come as a complete surprise to Moonves, as the two had previous discussions about Letterman's future on the show. But an insider with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that Moonves had been told by Letterman's representatives at CAA that they expected Letterman to re-up for two more years, so he was caught off guard.

The news then spread over social media, as much breaking news does.

Letterman's decision to step down shouldn't have been entirely  a shocker to anyone actually, as his last contract re-upping was of the one-year variety — his choice — and the first time he signed such a short-term extension, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation.

See video: Seth Meyers: ‘If It Wasn't for David Letterman, I Wouldn't Be Here’

Letterman's Worldwide Pants staff was told shortly before the taping, on that day, the individual told TheWrap. Letterman probably made the announcement in advance so that the Worldwide Pants staffers — the majority of who have been with him for more than 10 years — who don't decide to retire will have time to make other plans.

Dave will not un-retire, the individual added, and his Worldwide Pants production company is highly unlikely to continue to produce the “Late Show” after retirement.

The individual said that Dave is just starting to think about what's next, and with a 10-year-old son, likely won't disappear off the face of the Earth, a la Johnny Carson.

Sharon Waxman contributed to this report.

  • Me

    Johnny Carson wanted to leave the Tonight Show in the early 1980s after the grind of hosting a 90 minute program/5 days a week. Then he had his Vegas gig on the weekends.

    So NBC gave him his deal, owning his Tonight Show tapes, cutting his schedule to the four days a week with a guest host on Monday or a week, and from 90 to 60 minutes. But he really wanted out. And he got it in 1992, despite the changes and where the late night audience was going to. Johnny and sons and wives to take care of. Well, mostly his sons he took care of. His wives? Forget it. Thank God, Angie Dickerson never married him.

    Dave….he has a son and wife, and his health.

    • rootvg

      Johnny's health was going downhill even in the last years of the show. He liked his booze and his smokes. The smokes are what killed him. Dave's had some issues but he looks better than Johnny did going out the door.

      There's a rumor here in San Francisco that Jay may be in line for this job. Same old story, Jay's not ready to spend his time hanging around the house and working on his cars just yet. We'll see.

      • D.j. Richards

        CBS is not going to hire and sink millions into an almost 70 year old jay Leno.

        • Honey Badger Don't Care

          Regis was in his 60's when his show with Kathy Lee went national.

  • Gooseontheloose

    Who cares? Probably just the poor slobs who have nothing else to do at 11 PM.

  • Ellen Thomas

    Dave built his own career and give him credit, even though I seldom watched him, I salute him for knowing when to go and doing it on his own show.

  • whitewaterlake

    Letterman is just old and has gotten tiresome. It was long past time to go.

    I say that as an old person myself.

  • Dickgirth

    She will get on her knees when she hosts Obama

  • Freedom1966

    Interesting that his discussion with Monves and his impetuous decision came a day after him making a legally slanderous comment that ” Christie blocked traffic on the bridge” during his Wed. standup routine. I would bet money that he was called on the carpet for it by Monves or others and this was his retaliation.

  • alohay2k

    I watched Letterman on his very first 10 AM show on NBC. He was funny and we enjoyed his show for years.

    After switching to CBS, he started getting crotchety and not funny. Later he seemly became an arm of the Democratic Party, boring and just nasty at times.

    I miss the original Dave but i won't this one.

  • Brett Delong

    Yeah…he sucks.

  • Margaret

    Its time to puta female behind the late show desk… suggestion ellen degeneras

    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      Ellen already has a successful show, and she makes $20 million a year.