Video: Letterman Tells Guest Howard Stern on Thursday Night That Letterman Is Thinking of Quitting Show in Two Years; Letterman Producer Later Downplays the Remarks

Feb 4, 2011  •  Post A Comment

During a segment with Howard Stern on “Late Show with David Letterman” on Thursday night, Feb. 3, 2011, David Letterman said he might quit his show in two years.

Later, speaking to Kate Ward at EW’s Inside TV blog, Letterman’s  longtime executive producer and the CEO of Letteman’s Worldwide Pants, Rob Burnett,  downplayed the remarks.

We have a video of the segment below. The remarks come about three minutes in. Here’s a transcript of the exchange between Stern and Letterman:

Stern: How much longer are you doing this, really?

Letterman: I don’t know. Maybe two years I think. Two years.

Stern: Two years and you’re going to exit.

Letterman: I think that’s what it is, yeah.

Letterman didn’t seem necessarily to just toss off the answer–watch the video and decide for yourself. But Burnett definitely downplayed the remarks when he spoke to EW.

According to the article, Burnett said, ” “I think the first time Dave said he was going to leave in two years was back in 1987. He was asked a question [last night]: ‘How much longer do you see yourself doing this?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know, a couple of years.’ It was kind of a tossed-off response. I think it’s a response he’s given multiple times…. In no way was last night’s show any kind of actual announcement of any kind. I think when a guy ends a 30-plus career on television, it’s not going to be guessing about whether he’s leaving or not. It won’t be ambiguous.”

The story says Burnett added that Letterman “says this periodically, [but] I don’t want to rule it out. I have no particular insight into when David Letterman is going to want to stop doing the show. I’m not being coy. I honestly don’t know. I don’t know that he knows. Maybe he does, but there’s [been] no discussion about his leaving.”

According to the EW story, Letterman’s current contract ends next year. EW also notes that in two years, in 2013, Letterman will be 66 years old, the same age that his idol, Johnny Carson, quit “The Tonight Show.” 

 Here’s the video:


  1. I guess we will have to see next year when Letterman’s contract is up if he renews or calls it quits (retires). At his age with a major heart surgery behind him and a young child at home, I would recommend he retires and enjoys his family life. I would believe he could always produce or do special projects if he gets bored. I think each person knows when it is time to stop working.

  2. I disagree. Letterman is miserable at home. He has limited outside interests and has invested so many years into his show, I believe he’ll keep doing the Late Show until CBS tells him they’re not going to renew. Craig Ferguson is ready to replace him but will bide his time until Dave’s ready. He might experiment with doing 3 days a week like Carson did, time will tell.

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