David Letterman, who has hosted the "Late Show With David Letterman" on CBS since 1993, may be close to signing a deal that will have him celebrating 30 years in late night TV, more than his TV hero, Johnny Carson.
Letterman, via his Worldwide Pants production company, is in talks to remain on CBS through 2014, reports the New York Times. Such a deal would extend Letterman's late-night run to 32 years, topping the 30-year run the late Carson completed as host of "The Tonight Show."
Letterman hosted "Late Night With David Letterman" for 11 years on NBC prior to launching his current series at CBS.
The Times reports executives involved with the negotiations say CBS has given the authorization to make new agreements with several key members of Letterman's staff. "That means a final deal with Dave is very close," an executive tells the newspaper.
The big question remaining in CBS' late-night plans for the future: Craig Ferguson, the host of the post-Letterman "Late Late Show."
Ferguson's contract contains a clause that guarantees him the chance to host the 11:35 p.m. show if Letterman does retire, but the Times reports a bigger salary and production for his series are the negotiation points for Ferguson.
CBS' official comment on the late-night negotiations: "As would be expected at this time, we're having conversations with both Dave and Craig about future years. There are no further details to announce at this time."