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In less than a month, television will lose one of its most longstanding personalities when David Letterman steps down from his duties as The Late Show host, retiring with as much grace as one could hope for after this long of a career. Fittingly, CBS will be sending him off in the proper style with a 90-minute primetime retrospective called David Letterman: A Life in Television.
Set to air on Monday, May 4, David Letterman: A Life on Television will cover Letterman’s entire small screen career, starting when he was a weatherman for an Indianapolis news program. Viewers can probably expect to see his guest spots on The Tonight Show, which led to him hosting Late Night with David Letterman after a brief stint on a morning show. Video clips from his 30+ year career will be shown, including those with big celebrities and musical acts, as well as some focusing on his most well-known segments like the Top Ten List and his Stupid Pet/Human Tricks. As well, some of his more somber and poignant clips will be showcased, particularly his first show back after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
The special will see comedian and TV star Ray Romano taking on hosting duties, which makes a lot of sense, as Romano’s hit series Everybody Loves Raymond came to be after his successful stand-up appearance on Late Show in 1995. Letterman’s company Worldwide Pants even produced the show.
Letterman will have hosted 6,028 late night broadcasts by the time he retires next month, and was the recipient of 16 Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award and a Kennedy Center Honor, among many other accolades. His final show will be on Wednesday, May 20, and he’s got a slew of impressive guests lined up for the following weeks, including Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Will Ferrell, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Martin, Oprah Winfrey, Paul Rudd and many more. Romano will be one of them, as will Bill Murray, who was one of Letterman’s first guests for his debut on NBC’s Late Night in 1982.
Reports recently surfaced that Letterman put out an offer to former late night competitor Jay Leno to appear on one of his final episodes, seemingly burying the hatchet that inspired the acclaimed exposé book The Late Shift in 1994. Leno has yet to respond. Letterman also reportedly offered a spot to Brian Williams, who canceled an appearance in February following the controversy over his past as a war reporter. No word on that one yet, either.
Again, David Letterman: A Life on Television will air on CBS on Monday, May 4, at 9:30 p.m. ET. I wonder if Stephen Colbert will be making an appearance, since he’s the guy taking over Late Show later this year.