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David Letterman gave audiences a ton of advance notice regarding his retirement when he let us know last spring that the end was drawing near. As a direct result, his retirement has subsequently felt like an event that would happen sometime down the road rather than an event that is imminent. But imminent it is. On Wednesday, CBS announced that The Late Show with David Letterman will officially be ending on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.
The move isn’t exactly shocking. When Letterman stated he would retire in 2015, most people assumed he would finish out the TV season, which usually wraps up in May. Still, putting a date stamp on the end of Letterman’s storied career as a late night host is a pretty emotional event. The man has been a part of the television landscape for more than 32 years and has hosted The Late Show on CBS for the past 22 of those years. He’s racked up plenty of Emmy nominations and wins during his career and will be remembered for numerous iconic late night moments, including his post 9/11 monologue, his recent Robin Williams tribute and his epic interview with Paris Hilton.
When he retires, he will have hosted more than 6,000 late night TV episodes—that’s a longer run than Johnny Carson even had.
Whether you are a fan of David Letterman or not, the man has made a lasting impression on the late night landscape and his loss will be momentous. Luckily, CBS already has plans in moment to build a new late night landscape. Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert has already been signed on as Letterman’s replacement. Colbert’s political talk show, The Colbert Report, will be ending in 2014, giving him time to figure out the tone and pace of his own version of The Late Show. (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has yet to announce a premiere date, but it's likely to hit the schedule next fall.)
Letterman’s retirement isn’t the only big late night shakeup at CBS. The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is also ending this month, and comedian, writer and actor James Corden is set to take over that timeslot in March. In the interim, CBS has signed on a bevy of big names to guest host the series until Corden is ready to take over.
Fans of CBS’ late night lineup still have a few days to spend with Craig Ferguson and a few months to spend with David Letterman before he takes his last bow, but it’s clear an era is ending at the network. Expect the late night landscape to be very different over at CBS next fall.