David Letterman Nears New CBS Deal

David Letterman Nears New CBS Deal "It's good to be the king."

-Mel Brooks

Whether he's really called "King" or not might depend upon the age of the respondent one asks the question, but it's most assuredly still good to be David Letterman.

Executives recently negotiating Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company say a deal locking Letterman in at CBS until 2014 is very close, according to the New York Times today. That deal would see Letterman surpass the 30 years his contemporary and idol, the late Johnny Carson, hosted NBC's "The Tonight Show." CBS Chairman Les Moonves declined to comment on the negotiations.

An ironic twist, since it was NBC succeeding Carson with comedian and "Tonight Show" substitute host Jay Leno in 1992 that originally played into Letterman leaving his post as host of "Late Night" and moving to CBS in 1993. Letterman's deal technically expires this coming August, though a clause in his contract would let him leave this May if he chooses.

It was previously rumored that Letterman might retire this year when he signed a two-year deal in 2010. The future of the show after "The Late Show with David Letterman" seems more murky. Negotiations continue, but the Times reports there aren't definite indications that Craig Ferguson will continue hosting "The Late Late Show" when his contract expires.

A sticking point may be Ferguson's time slot. He currently has the 12:35 AM ET/PT position, but has a clause guaranteeing him an 11:35 PM spot should Letterman step down. If Ferguson tires of the past-midnight position, it would then be another two years (at least) until he can scoot back that precious hour. According to the Times, it's not an issue Ferguson has raised before, but negotiations could come down to a combination of improving his current salary and giving his show a stronger budget.

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