Jay Leno may be riding into the sunset in a denim tuxedo, but his longtime late night rival David Letterman is staying put, extending his contract with CBS for another year.
The additional trip around the sun cements Letterman’s tenure as the longest-running late night chat show host in history—31 years behind the desk, of which the last 20 have been in service of CBS.
In a statement, the Late Show host joked that the extra year will give him adequate time to sow salt into the soil. “[CBS Corp. CEO] Les [Moonves] and I had a lengthy discussion, and we both agreed that I needed a little more time to fully run the show into the ground,” Letterman said.
Per terms of the new deal, Letterman will remain the host of the Late Show through 2015. His contract was set to expire next fall. While financials were not disclosed, Letterman is believed to pull in around $20 million per year.
“There is only one Dave, and we are extremely proud that he continues to call CBS ‘home,’” Moonves said.
Leno will sign off from The Tonight Show for the last time following NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympics. He’ll be succeeded by in-house favorite son Jimmy Fallon.
Late Night with David Letterman premiered on NBC in February 1982, where it quickly earned a cult following among comedy nerds and college kids. Letterman’s deadpan subversion of the norms of late night chat—just try explaining the Dada brilliance of Larry “Bud” Melman to someone unfamiliar with the man’s oeuvre—and a dazzling bullpen of writing talent (Merrill Markoe, Chris Elliott, Steve O’Donnell, Fred Graver, Andy Breckman, James Downey, et al) forever changed the face of late night.
Since Letterman moved to CBS in 1993, the Late Show has collected nine Emmys Awards, including six for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program.