From the home office at the Ed Sullivan Theater: David Letterman is staying at CBS for another four years.
Letterman, 59, is close to finalizing a contract extension with CBS that will keep him at the helm of “The Late Show With David Letterman” through the 2009-10 season, sources said. Negotiations on the pact have been underway on and off for months, but sources close to the network and the Letterman camp say the talks went smoothly and there was never any doubt that the Emmy-winning late-night host would extend his tenure at “Late Show,” which originates from the famed Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City.
Indeed, sources say that relations between CBS, Letterman and his Worldwide Pants production company have never been better, particularly between Letterman and CBS Corp. chief Leslie Moonves. Moonves has become a semi-regular presence on “Late Show” through the “More With Les” segments, featuring Letterman conversing with Moonves by telephone.
The harmony between Letterman and CBS stands in stark contrast to the situation 4-1/2 years ago, when Letterman was being heavily courted by ABC and reportedly felt under-appreciated at CBS. At the time, Letterman wound up striking a two-year renewal deal that included a series of one-year options, while sources said this time around the deal is a four-year commitment.
Financial details of the new deal were unclear. Letterman already ranks high on the list of television’s highest-paid personalities, with an annual salary of about $31.5 million under the 2002 contract agreement. Sources said the new deal keeps Letterman in roughly similar salary territory as the 2002 pact, but that could not be confirmed late Wednesday.
A CBS spokesman declined comment on the deal, as did Letterman’s handlers.