‘Late Show’ Carson Tribute Draws Big Ratings

Feb 1, 2005  •  Post A Comment

“Late Show With David Letterman” returned from a week off Monday with a tribute to the late Johnny Carson that attracted the largest ratings in a year in 56 metered markets.

The guests were Peter Lassally, the former executive producer of “The Tonight Show,” who has worked with Mr. Letterman since Mr. Carson retired in 1992, and former Carson musical director Doc Severinsen. Mr. Letterman’s monologue consisted of jokes written by his mentor over the past few months.

“Everybody else who is doing a show, myself included, we’re all kind of secretly doing Johnny’s ‘Tonight Show,'” Mr. Letterman said. “The reason we’re all doing Johnny’s ‘Tonight Show’ is because you think, ‘Well, if I do Johnny’s “Tonight Show,” maybe I’ll be a little like Johnny and people will like me more.’ But it sadly doesn’t work that way. It’s just, if you’re not Johnny, you’re wasting your time.”

According to data collected by Nielsen Media Research, “Late Show” averaged a 6 rating and 10 share, the best showing in metered markets since a Feb. 9, 2004, appearance by Dr. Phil McGraw earned an average 6 rating/14 share.

That interest helped boost “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson” to the time slot’s best performance of the 2004-2005 season, a 2.4/9 in the metered markets.

Mr. Carson died Jan. 23. The following night, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” scored an 11.2/26 in the metered markets, Mr. Leno’s best Monday since he debuted in May 1992.

This Monday, CBS’s “Late Show” beat NBC’s “Tonight” in the metered markets by 1.1 rating points, the largest winning margin for “Late Show” of the current TV season.