David Letterman Announces He Will Retire In 2015

David Letterman announced during the Thursday taping of his”Late Show With David Letterman” that he will be retiring in 2015.

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, who is performing on tonight’s show, initially broke the news via Twitter.

Letterman, 66, has been a fixture on late night television since the 1982 debut of “Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC.

When Jay Leno took Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” host spot when he retired in 1992, Letterman left NBC for CBS’ “The Late Show.”

From then on, it was a constant ratings battle between Letterman and Leno, ending just this February when Leno retired.

Letterman is the longest-serving late-night host in TV history, last year surpassing Carson at the 31-year mark. Leno had a solid 22-year run on-air.

Craig Ferguson now reportedly has right of first refusal for a post-Letterman “Late Night” in his contract.

Here’s how The NY Times’ Bill Carter described it:

[Ferguson’s] previous contracts with CBS have included what amounts to a “Prince of Wales” clause, giving Mr. Ferguson the right to inherit the late-night show in the 11:35 p.m. time period should Mr. Letterman decide to leave. (Those clauses have never been ironclad, however, because a network can choose to pay off the deal rather than complete the succession, as Mr. Letterman learned when Mr. Leno was chosen to succeed Mr. Carson in 1992.)

“Ferguson’s CBS contract also expires in 2015, so if CBS opts to buy him out instead of giving him the prestigious ‘Late Show,’ he could end up leaving the network altogether, leaving the network’s 12:35 slot vacant, as well,” reports Splisider.

Below is the official statement on Letterman’s retirement:

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