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-Total Viewers:
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 5.97
Late Show with David Letterman, 4.20
Nightline, 3.96

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show, 2.1/9, Late Show, 1.5/7, Nightline, 1.2/5

Tonight Show, 2.4/9, Late Show, 1.8/7, Nightline, 1.4/6

Source: MediaWeek

Ratings are down across the board for late night television, summer reruns in primetime have hurt the lead-in audience for the shows, making the ratings lower, a not of interest is that The Tonight Show has taken a much bigger hit that the Late Show or Nightline, Tonight has a 5.97, compared to 6.90 about a month ago, while the Late Show has a 4.20 compared to 4.89 about a month ago, and Nightline has a 3.96 compared to 4.14 about a month ago.

(See last months ratings five stories down)


David Letterman will move to ABC late night at 12:05AM on July 8, 2002 right after Nightline, we should mention that he will only be on for one night in an interview on the new program Nightline: Up Close, the show starts off it's very first episode with a full half hour of David Letterman. Each episode of Up Close will feature one person, famous people, normal people, all kinds if people, it will certainly always be interesting.

This marks a rare appearance for David Letterman who has denied every interview since 1996 because "he feels he has an hour each night to talk and he can do all the talking about himself that he wants to do there." said Late Show Executive Producer Rob Burnett, this interview came about on March 12, the day after Mr. Letterman announced he was staying with CBS, he praised Ted Koppel, and said things like 'Nightline should stay on forever,' Ted Koppel called to thank Mr. Letterman, asked him if he would do an interview, Letterman said yes, he then asked Mr. Koppel to appear on his show as well, which he will later that same week on Friday, July 12.

"Dave is no show-business weasel," said Rob Burnett, adding "He promised Ted, and he's going to do it." Tom Bettag, the executive producer of Nightline, said Mr. Koppel and the rest of the Nightline staff have no ill will toward Mr. Letterman over what he called "the recent unpleasantness." He said Mr. Letterman had been "very, very gracious" about making himself available to help start the new Nightline series. "Dave and Ted like each other a lot," Mr. Bettag said. "That's really why this is happening."



David Letterman made the list of powerful celebrities once again, this year he was at number 23, Last year he was 24. Dave ranked 32nd in the money category, received 127,000 web hits, was featured in 11,290 press clips, and was in 338 TV and radio clips. Forbes writes about Dave:

He captured headlines once with his post-Sept. 11 show and again with his should-I-stay-or-should-I-go dance with CBS and ABC. But he still trails Jay Leno in the late-night ratings race.

Speaking of Jay Leno, where does he rank? He was number 41, with 116,000 web hits, 9,387 press clips, 1 cover story, and 294 TV and radio clips. Forbes writes about Jay:

He doesn't get the press, the critical acclaim or the pay that David Letterman gets, but he does draw a bigger audience, night after night. Off camera he is a tireless stand-up comic.

Other talk show hosts to make the list include Oprah who comes in at #8, Rosie O'Donnell at #32, Rush Limbaugh at #40, Howard Stern is #45, Regis Philbin at #73, and Martin Short at #90.

Click here to see the full list




Long before David Letterman was courted this spring by ABC, which tried to to lure him from CBS, he had another suitor, one that was only too familiar and only too resonant of what might have been.

NBC, the network Mr. Letterman left in 1993 after losing out to Jay Leno in the quest to succeed Johnny Carson at "The Tonight Show," made a serious approach to bring Mr. Letterman back beginning last July. But the plan was not to install him in the "Tonight" chair, which is still occupied by Mr. Leno. NBC's idea was to give Mr. Letterman a prominent spot in its prime-time lineup: the slot from 8 to 9 p.m. every weeknight except Thursday, when the hit "Friends" is broadcast.

Jeff Zucker, the president of NBC Entertainment, who came up with the plan, declined to comment. But Rob Burnett, who heads Mr. Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, confirmed that Mr. Zucker spoke to him in Los Angeles last summer, laying out the plan.

The suggestion was not a negotiation — under his CBS contract Mr. Letterman could not negotiate until early this year. "But we could listen," Mr. Burnett said.

He said he immediately realized that if Mr. Letterman could be won over, Mr. Zucker would be able to stabilize a problematic time slot for NBC, saving the network millions in program costs. Hiring Mr. Letterman could also bolster the ratings fortunes for Mr. Leno at "Tonight" by removing Mr. Letterman as a late-night rival. It would also mean a bigger paycheck for Mr. Letterman.

"It was a very smart idea," Mr. Burnett said. "Jeff doesn't just think outside the box; with him you can't even find the box."

Still, Mr. Burnett told Mr. Zucker that Mr. Letterman had always resisted the idea of moving into prime time. He suggested that Mr. Zucker could sway Mr. Letterman by shifting Mr. Leno to 8 and turning "Tonight" over to Mr. Letterman — an option Mr. Zucker was not going to pursue. Mr. Leno is the ratings leader in late-night programming.

Mr. Burnett told Mr. Zucker that the idea was intriguing but would almost surely not get anywhere with Mr. Letterman. A short time later, Mr. Burnett said he mentioned it to Mr. Letterman. "We chatted briefly about it," he said. "Dave had a good laugh over it."


In a new article on Jimmy Kimmel in the New York Times, Kimmel, who begins his own late night talk show in January, which will compete with the Late Show, had this to say about David Letterman:

...Mr. Kimmel says he has spent his entire adulthood with one goal: to be David Letterman. "The only reason I ever even got into show business was that I might be able to hang out with him someday," Mr. Kimmel said of Mr. Letterman. "He practically invented my sense of humor."

He continued (perhaps to the chagrin of his new bosses): "It's silly for me to think of anyone wanting to watch me instead of Letterman." He paused. "I wouldn't."

Brooklyn-born but raised in Las Vegas, Mr. Kimmel says his fascination with Mr. Letterman manifested itself in high school. His personalized license plate read "L8NITE"; on his 18th birthday, his cake was decorated with the "Late Night" logo.

And when Mr. Kimmel learned that Mr. Letterman had started in radio, he headed there. At 17 he had a weekly show on a college radio station where he'd "find local celebrities and make fun of them," using such time-honored techniques as massive pizza delivery orders....

Read the full article here:


-Total Viewers:
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,
Late Show with David Letterman,

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show,
2.6/11, Late Show, 2.0/8, Nightline, 1.3/5

Tonight Show,
2.9/11, Late Show, 2.2/9, Nightline, 1.5/6

Source: MediaWeek

The Late Show posted it's highest ratings of the year and is up 200,000 viewers from the last published new episode ratings, I guess all of the new promotion and press for Letterman's show is helping. The Tonight Show is also up, but only slightly from the shows average, and about 100,000 viewers less than the April 8th ratings, when the Late Show had a 4.59, and Tonight had a 6.99. Nightline is down, but only slightly, the show remains consistant in it's ratings.


The guest of honor at CBS' upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday (May 17) didn't RSVP until a few hours before the big show, but it was smiles all around for CBS brass when David Letterman strolled out onstage to greet the assembled ad buyers.

As always, CBS' 2 1/2-hour presentation included elaborate comedy bits, and this year's topic was the high-stakes contract renewal drama among Letterman, CBS and ABC. Letterman's barbs were spiked, and Moonves was self-deprecating, but the significance of Letterman's appearance after a much-publicized struggle with his network was not lost on attendees.

Playing off the widespread reports that Letterman has felt underappreciated by CBS, a taped segment showed Moonves washing Letterman's car, washing the faux windows on Letterman's stage set and impersonating Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer. Viacom president and chief operating officer Mel Karmazin even got into the act with a taped segment showing him driving a truck loaded with money bags and dumping them on Letterman's doorstep.

Letterman, who signed a five-year deal to continue as host of CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" for a cool $31 million a year, walked out at the end of the video, greeting the Carnegie Hall crowd with the observation, "What a dump!"

After Moonves described Letterman as "the gold standard in late-night," Letterman returned the compliment by noting, "Les, we've known each other a long time ... and God, you're handsome."

Letterman ended his appearance with -- what else? -- a top 10 list, albeit an abridged version. "Top 10 ways I will make the 'Late Show' better," Letterman vowed. "No. 10 -- who am I kidding? After 20 years, I'm too tired to do anything but the same old crap."



Seinfeld, The 1990s show starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld as a New York comedian hanging out with three of his pals -- Elaine, George and Kramer -- topped TV Guide's list of the 50 most entertaining or influential television series in American pop culture.

The list, appearing in the currentissue, will get the countdown treatment in an ABC special on May 13, "TV Guide's 50 Best Shows of All Time," part of the magazine's celebration of its golden anniversary.

The 50 entries, chosen and ranked by TV Guide editors, consist of regularly scheduled series spanning more than a half century of television, going as far back as NBC's pioneering live comedy/variety program, Your Show of Shows.

That show, which debuted in 1950 starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, was ranked No. 30.

TV movies, miniseries and specials were not eligible.

Prime time accounts for most of the shows, though a few daytime programs made the list -- NBC's Today (No. 17) and the syndicated talk shows Donahue (No. 29) and The Oprah Winfrey Show (No. 49).

On the late-night front, the CBS Late Show with David Letterman got the highest ranking, at No. 7, beating out even NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (No. 12). Letterman's arch rival -- and Carson's successor -- Jay Leno, failed to make the cut. ABC's Nightline ranked 23rd.

NBC dominated the list with 17 shows, which, besides Seinfeld, ranged from Saturday Night Live at No. 10 to the Judd Hirsch sitcom Taxi, which also aired on ABC, at No. 48.

CBS made the list with 16 shows, led by I Love Lucy at No. 2, and boasted five other programs in the top 10, including The Honeymooners (No. 3), All in the Family (No. 4), 60 Minutes (No. 6) and The Andy Griffith Show (No. 9).

A total of eight ABC shows made the list, led by the late-1980s, early '90s drama thirtysomething, while Fox had two entries -- animated sitcom satire The Simpsons at No. 8 and sci-fi thriller The X-Files at No. 37.

The only other cartoon series to make the list was ABC's Rocky and His Friends at No. 47.

Cable television was represented by just two shows -- mob drama The Sopranos at No. 5 and Garry Shandling's The Larry Sanders Show at No. 38, both on HBO.

Public TV also had two series on the list -- the landmark children's program Sesame Street (No. 27) and the pioneering 1973 reality series An American Family (No. 32). But modern-day reality hit Survivor was snubbed, as were all game shows. Not even Who Wants to Be a Millionaire made the list.

The fledgling networks the WB and UPN had to settle for one shared entry, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which has aired on both outlets.

1. Seinfeld
2. I Love Lucy
3. The Honeymooners
4. All in the Family
5. The Sopranos
6. 60 Minutes
7. Late Show with David Letterman
8. The Simpsons
9. The Andy Griffith Show
10. Saturday Night Live
11. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
12. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
13. The Dick Van Dyke Show
14. Hill Street Blues
15. The Ed Sullivan Show
16. The Carol Burnett Show
17. Today
18. Cheers
19. thirtysomething
20. St. Elsewhere
21. Friends
22. ER
23. Nightline
24. Law & Order
25. M*A*S*H
26. The Twilight Zone
27. Sesame Street
28. The Cosby Show
29. Donahue
30. Your Show of Shows
31. The Defenders
32. An American Family
33. Playhouse 90
34. Frasier
35. Roseanne
36. The Fugitive
37. The X-Files
38. The Larry Sanders Show
39. The Rockford Files
40. Gunsmoke
41. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
42. Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In
43. Bonanza
44. The Bob Newhart Show
45. Twin Peaks
46. Star Trek: The Next Generation
47. Rocky and His Friends
48. Taxi
49. The Oprah Winfrey Show
50. Bewitched


|ratings for the week of april 15|

-Total Viewers:
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 6.32
Late Show with David Letterman, 4.11
Nightline, 4.35

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show, 2.3/10, Late Show, 1.7/7, Nightline, 1.3/6

Tonight Show, 2.7/11, Late Show, 1.9/8, Nightline, 1.5/6

Source: MediaWeek

The ratings aren't that suprising considering the Late Show was in reruns for the week of April 15, what is suprising is Leno's major drop, Tonight went from a 6.99 to a 6.32, Nightline is the only show in late night that remains consistant, it was even up in the 18-49 demo, and remained the same in the 25-54 group, it also remained the same in total viewers with a 4.35, look for next weeks numbers to be quite different, we are likely to see a big jump for the Late Show!

|ratings for the week of april 8|

-Total Viewers:
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 6.99
Late Show with David Letterman, 4.59
Nightline, 4.35

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show, 2.7/11, Late Show, 1.9/ 8, Nightline, 1.3/5

Tonight Show, 2.9/11, Late Show, 2.2/8, Nightline, 1.5/6

Source: MediaWeek

For some reason The Tonight Show is up in the ratings, Leno is nearing 7 million viewers a night! The Late Show remains about the same, perhaps with CBS upping ads for the show (see story below) ratings will improve, Nightline is also up, but down in the key demographics. So just why is everyone going up in late night except the Late Show? I just can't understand it. Look for this weeks Late Show ratings to even lower due to reruns.

|cbs ups spots for letterman [hollywood reporter]|

One month after David Letterman re-upped with CBS following a high-profile flirtation with ABC, CBS says it has significantly stepped up marketing for his show. The marketing commitment to "Late Show With David Letterman" became an issue during the negotiations, with the show's producers saying that putting Viacom marketing muscle behind Letterman was key to the deal to stay.

"We've added a lot more exposure in many things we do," said George Schweitzer, executive vp marketing and communications at CBS. "It's a much more stepped-up, aggressive plan."

Schweitzer said two new elements to the network's promotion of "Letterman" are radio and billboard advertising on Viacom-owned properties. Billboards are going up in major markets beginning this week, including a giant billboard featuring Letterman on the side of the Viacom building in Times Square. Radio ads on Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting are also beginning to break.

CBS has added promo spots of "all shapes and sizes" for Letterman on-air, Schweitzer said, with an emphasis on sports programming. "The show skews male and younger, and these are very successful programs for us," said Schweitzer, citing examples including golf coverage and telecasts of the NCAA basketball tournament.

CBS has also worked Letterman into its network theme campaign spots on CBS. On cable, such Viacom channels as VH1 and MTV are being used to step up the "Letterman" promo push.

Rob Burnett, executive producer of "Letterman" and head of Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company, said at the time of the CBS re-up that this kind of commitment was extremely important to the pact. "This negotiation was about a commitment from a network to a show," Burnett said. "We believe we now have re-energized that commitment."

|ratings for the week of april 1|

-Total Viewers:
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, 6.47
Late Show with David Letterman, 4.51
Nightline, 4.23

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show, 2.4/10, Late Show, 1.9/ 8, Nightline, 1.4/ 6

Tonight Show, 2.7/11, Late Show, 1.9/ 8, Nightline, 1.6/ 6

Source: MediaWeek

It's not an April Fools joke, Jay Leno is still going strong, but is down quite a bit from his first quarter average of 6.7, David Letterman is also down, but by less viewers, 4.7 was the Late Show's first quarter average, compared to the current 4.5. But with Conan O'Brien saying wonderful things about Dave on Last Call with Carson Daly and Larry King Live, combined with the NBC 50 Years in Late Night special, the ratings may just improve.

|2002 first quarter ratings average for all the others|

Late Night with Conan O'Brien, 2.5, (Up 4% from last year)

Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, 1.4, (Down 5% from last year)

Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, 2.5, (Down 11% from last year)

Last Call with Carson Daly, 1.7

Conan O'Brien is the clear winner here, nothing is slowing this guy down, the show is sharp and crazy and as funny as ever.

Craig Kilborn can't seem to hold on to that Letterman lead-in, Kilborn is still doing just fine, so fans of the show needn't worry. The show is still very original and very funny, it is slowly finding it's audience, lets not forget that Conan was a flop in the early years.

P.I. is dropping like a brick, no wonder ABC is dumping it, it's kind of a shame, hopefully Bill will do the same type of show somewhere else, or ABC will create a new similar program without Bill.

Last Call is a hit, and it deserves to be a hit, check out this great show after Conan on NBC and in primetime on E! Entertainment.

|2002 first quarter ratings average|

-Total Viewers:
Tonight Show, 6.75, Late Show, 4.70, Nightline, 4.30

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show, 2.5/10, Late Show, 1.9/ 8, Nightline, 1.4/ 6

Tonight Show, 2.9/11, Late Show, 2.1/ 8, Nightline, 1.6/ 6

Source: MediaWeek

|next day repeats for letterman []|

Add "The Late Show with David Letterman" to the list of network programs seeking instant reruns on cable.

Part of Letterman's new contract with CBS -- which kept him from jumping to ABC -- calls for the network to increase promotion of "The Late Show." "Repurposing" -- the industry term for quick repeats of a show on cable or a sister network -- would accomplish that, and it would also let CBS amortize the show's cost over two airings.

Although the repurposing talks are just starting, "Late Show" executive producer Rob Burnett tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that MTV and VH1, like CBS parts of Viacom, "are the obvious suspects."

"We're actively pushing the notion forward," says Burnett, who's also president of World Wide Pants, Letterman's production company.

NBC recently signed two repurposing deals for its after-midnight fare. "Last Call with Carson Daly" airs on E! the next day, and repeats of "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" will begin running on Comedy Central in September.

Burnett says he hopes Letterman repeats can also air within 24 hours of the original broadcast, when the material is still relatively fresh and there's a chance to promote the next night's show.

Repurposing "can be very helpful, if done properly," Burnett says. "Everyone's inclination about this is more positive than negative. It's a great promotional tool."

|ratings for the week of march 18|

-Total Viewers:
Tonight Show, 5.74 million, Late Show, 4.64, Nightline, 4.28

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show, 2.2/ 9, Late Show, 1.8/ 8, Nightline, 1.4/ 6

Tonight Show, 2.5/10, Late Show, 2.0/ 8, Nightline, 1.6/ 6

Source: MediaWeek

|ratings for the week of february 25|

-Total Viewers:
Tonight Show 6.79 million, Late Show 4.07, Nightline 3.96

-Adults 18-49:
Tonight Show 2.5/11, Late Show 1.7/7, Nightline 1.3/5

Tonight Show 3.1/12, Late Show 1.8/7, Nightline 1.5/6

Source: MediaWeek

|letterman staying at cbs []|


David Letterman ended 10 days of intense media speculation about his future Monday night when he announced on his late-night show that he would be staying with CBS.

His announcement was greeted with enthusiastic applause, which Letterman then characteristically followed with a joke.

"I know it sounds pretty good to you, folks, but there goes the vacation to Disney World," he said.

The Walt Disney Company, which owns the ABC network, had made overtures to Letterman in recent weeks about moving his show to ABC. When reports of these negotiations were leaked to the press, it touched off a firestorm within ABC's news division. Disney executives had promised Letterman the time period for its long-running news program "Nightline" but had failed to tell this to either "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel or ABC News chief David Westin.

Letterman's new deal will run five years, but he will have a yearly option to retire beginning in 2004. Other terms were not announced, but The New York Times reported both networks had been offering Letterman salaries of about $31.5 million a year. He had been making $30 million under his last deal at CBS.

Though Letterman praised Disney for being "gracious and generous and very patient," he heaped more praise on Koppel and indicated that one reason he rejected ABC's offer was the impact it would have on "Nightline." He also alluded to the controversy surrounding Disney's decision to jettison a prestigious news program in favor of an entertainment show.

"Ted Koppel," Letterman said, "at the very least deserves the right to determine his own professional future. Absolutely no less than that."

It appeared Letterman had patched up things with CBS chief Leslie Moonves. The two men have sparred over matters of promotion and scheduling problems. Their personalities — Moonves the smooth Hollywood insider, Letterman the lonely outsider — reportedly do not mesh well.

"I think the hard feelings were overblown," said "Late Show" executive producer Rob Burnett Monday in a telephone interview. "What happened here is that CBS had an opportunity to make a deal with us. That deal didn't get done and as a result, ABC cropped up." Burnett said Letterman felt "obliged" to entertain ABC's offer.

"It's a nine-year marriage and there are tussels," Burnett said. "They have different priorities sometimes. We got upset when we were delayed because the Grammys ran long. There's a lot of that in any long-term relationship."

Letterman had privately complained that CBS wasn't doing enough to promote his show across the spectrum of youthful networks owned by CBS' corporate parent, Viacom, such as UPN, MTV and VH1.

Burnett said CBS showed "how badly it wanted Dave to stay" in part by offering broader cross-promotion with Viacom.

Still, Letterman couldn't resist getting in a few pokes at his current and future employer Monday night.

"CBS, all of the sudden, they can't kiss up to me enough," he said. "I finally got a get-well card for my bypass surgery two years ago."

Special thanks to Aaron Barnhart who runs for providing this story on his site.

|dave stays put|

On Monday, March 11th, Late Show host David Letterman addressed the audience about his decision to stay at CBS, or move to ABC. Dave has decided to stay at CBS, he made many jokes about it in the monologue, then he went over to his desk, (everyones favorite part of the show) and he further discussed the issue, telling the story of when he came here from NBC 9 years ago. Many good jokes were told, and it was a nice story, I won't spoil it for you--you can watch tonight.

Discuss Daves decision in The Stupid Fan Tricks Forum


|charts and graphs|
Nov. 1978: David Letterman makes the first of 22 appearances on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson." He also guest hosts the "Tonight Show" numerous times.

Feb. 1982: "Late Night with David Letterman" premieres on NBC.

May 1992: Johnny Carson tapes his final show. Three days later, Jay Leno takes the reins.

Dec. 1992: His contract expiring at NBC, David Letterman accepts an offer from CBS to host the 11:30 p.m. EST time slot that would compete directly with Jay Leno.

Aug. 1993: The "Late Show with David Letterman" premieres on CBS. The show's ratings consistently beat the "Tonight Show" until 1995.

July 1995: The "Tonight Show" scores a huge ratings win after Hugh Grant appears on the show to discuss his recent arrest with a Los Angeles prostitute.

Jan. 2000: David Letterman undergoes quintuple bypass surgery.

Jan. 2001: Jay Leno negotiates and accepts a contract that keeps him at NBC through 2005. Unlike his predecessor, his new contract doesn't include an ownership stake in the show.

March 2002: David Letterman considers moving his show to ABC.


Jay Leno: 6.7

David Letterman: 4.7

|letterman - leno rivalry drives current "late show" drama [wsj]|


Will Dave move to ABC? If he does, what will happen to Ted? The current media-industry soap opera raises many weighty questions about the future of network news and the economics of television.

But on another level, it's all about how badly David Letterman wants to topple Jay Leno. Mr. Letterman wouldn't even consider moving his "Late Show" to ABC from CBS if he didn't think a different network, with a younger audience and promises of a huge promotional blitz, would help him close the ratings gap with "The Tonight Show" on NBC.

Ever since General Electric Co.'s NBC tapped Mr. Leno to succeed Johnny Carson as host of "The Tonight Show" in 1992, he and Mr. Letterman have been locked in mortal combat. The critics love Dave. The audience loves Jay. This drives both men crazy.

Mr. Letterman never used to acknowledge Mr. Leno's existence, either publicly or privately, until about two years ago, when he began mocking his nemesis, with his high-pitched Boston accent and his supposedly shallow interview style, on the air. But no amount of Jay-bashing can change the irksome fact that "The Tonight Show" regularly beats "Late Show" in terms of number of viewers and the audience demographics that command top dollar from advertisers.

ABC's pitch to Mr. Letterman is the latest installment in the long-running television saga that began in 1993, when CBS lured Mr. Letterman away from his "late-late night" slot following "The Tonight Show" on NBC. Going head-to-head with Mr. Leno, Mr. Letterman at first dominated. At 11:30 p.m., he found a much wider audience than the one he'd had in his old 12:30 a.m. slot. The publicity surrounding his defection and his new show was enormous, and he was clearly energized.

Mr. Leno, meanwhile, was struggling to fill Mr. Carson's capacious shoes. Critics were hard on him. He had to cope with backstage turmoil and the knowledge that NBC had at one point seriously weighed replacing him with Mr. Letterman, before Mr. Letterman's move to CBS.

Then, in 1995, everything changed. "The Tonight Show" started beating "Late Show" on a regular basis. Late-night historians point to Mr. Leno's interview that year with British actor Hugh Grant, his first after being arrested for dallying with a prostitute, as the turning point. But in fact, it isn't that simple. Long before late-night audiences ever heard of Divine Brown, NBC's shows generally had been gaining ground. The view in Mr. Letterman's camp is that Mr. Leno's boat just rose with the tide.

More than the monologue or the celebrity guests, the biggest reason "Late Show" hasn't been able to pull ahead may be, of all things, football. CBS lost professional football to the Fox network in 1994, which hurt CBS with one of Mr. Letterman's most loyal audiences -- young males. That football deal allowed Fox to woo eight local stations in major markets away from CBS, including Detroit, Atlanta, Phoenix and Dallas, forcing CBS to move to weaker stations. Urban viewers, of course, are another one of Mr. Letterman's strong suits. It isn't a coincidence that after CBS got football back, the ratings for "Late Show" have improved.

Meanwhile, over on NBC, "The Tonight Show" was benefiting from changes elsewhere in the programming line-up. "Seinfeld" was just becoming a monster hit, "Friends" and "ER" were launched to blockbuster success, and "Today" became the No. 1 morning show. It would have been hard for "The Tonight Show" to avoid making gains -- which is why some bashers of the program have taken to calling it the "Veronica's Closet" of late-night TV, a reference to a critically panned NBC comedy that succeeded by virtue of airing in the time slot following "Seinfeld."

Indeed, despite Mr. Leno's ratings triumph, critics continue to disparage him. The Washington Post's Tom Shales routinely beats up on him, saying he has trouble connecting to guests. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker wrote that "The Tonight Show" is "primarily a place for celebrities to go hawk their wares."

But Mr. Leno's success may be a simple reminder that network TV is still a mass medium, and that Johnny Carson's mainstream legacy hasn't vanished. Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television, says David Letterman may have "transformed" TV, but Jay Leno is easier to take before falling to sleep. "Dave's biggest problem is that while he is funnier, and more intense, and is the life of the party, he isn't someone you want to go home with," Prof. Thompson says. Jay, on the other hand, "has mastered the ability to deliver a program which is very easy and is, in fact, pleasurable to fall asleep in the middle of."

There are, of course, no guarantees that Mr. Letterman would actually gain ground on his rival if he jumps to ABC. But there are certain advantages. Despite its prime-time ratings freefall, ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co., has much stronger stations in the big urban markets. In Philadelphia, for example, the ABC station has been No. 1 for 30 years.

ABC is promising to blanket its ESPN sports channels with promotions for Mr. Letterman, delivering young males. The Letterman camp has grumbled that CBS, a unit of Viacom Inc., didn't do enough to promote him on Viacom's young-skewing cable networks MTV and VH1.

But a move to ABC would carry risks. For starters, Mr. Letterman's ratings have improved a bit over the past two years. CBS can make the case to Mr. Letterman that a switch to ABC would confuse viewers, possible opening the door for Mr. Leno to stretch his lead still further.

|letterman of the moment [ew]|

Why WOULDN'T ABC want David Letterman instead of Ted Koppel? ''The Late Show with David Letterman'' may pull in lower ratings for CBS than Leno does over at NBC, but it regularly creams Koppel's ''Nightline.'' More important, it brings in younger viewers, averaging 50 percent more under-35s than ABC's ''Nightline''-''Politically Incorrect'' hour. And that, in turn, brings the advertisers baying: ''Late Show'' makes $175 million in ad revenue as opposed to Koppel's $75 million. So does ABC, staggering ineptly in so many directions, want some of that $100 million? You bet it does.

And why WOULDN'T David Letterman want ABC? Ever since the departure of CBS president Howard Stringer in 1995 -- the suit who brought Letterman over from NBC back in 1993 -- the prickly talk-show host has remained aloof from his executive-suite keepers. No glad-handing the advertisers, no showing up for brown-nosing promotional appearances, barely speaking to network CEO Les Moonves. For someone with skin as thin as Letterman -- and he practically flays himself on a daily basis -- why wouldn't he be open to courting from a network that desperately needs his hip appeal (even if he'd doubtless be bitching about the stupidity of ABC executives within a week of making the transition)?

And, come to think of it, why WOULDN'T Ted Koppel want to dump ABC and jump to CNN or whichever friendly, sympathetic 24-hour news channel wants to give him a berth? Especially since his bosses at ABC and Disney -- primarily Bob Iger, president of Walt Disney Communications -- have gone out of their way to publicly disrespect him and all of the ABC news division by a) tendering an offer to Letterman without clueing in Koppel's direct boss, news chief David Westin, b) promising Letterman that ''Nightline'' would be history whether Dave came over or not, and c) generally acting like Koppel's the nerd at the barbecue.

In the end, Letterman will probably stay at CBS -- he won't want to have ''Nightline'''s blood on his hands and the whole episode may have been intended to raise his value with his Viacom bosses. ''Nightline'' is toast but Koppel will survive, albeit on a smaller scale. ''Politically Incorrect'' is also toast, and Bill Maher won't survive. And the executives at ABC will really have to rethink their PR strategy.

How out to lunch are the suits? An anonymous ABC exec was quoted as defending the Letterman overtures by saying that ''[t]he relevancy of 'Nightline' just is not there anymore.'' That gets it exactly backwards. A late-night network news show that intelligently reports on political developments around the world is, without question, more relevant than ever right now -- it's simply that most American viewers are hooked on irrelevance and want nothing to do with information that matters. By courting Letterman, the king of ephemeral irony, ABC is acting in the interests of its shareholders -- and millions of viewers too scared to look out the window.

What do you think Dave should do?

|inside the cbs contract talks|

We are starting to learn more about the CBS contract negotiations, we now know that one of the big problems with Dave resigning with CBS is that he wants his company Worldwide Pants to continue ownership of the show after he retires, Dave is worried about the future and job security of his staff when he goes. He wants them to still have a job when he is no longer the host of The Late Show. We have also learned that Letterman is asking for $31.5 million per year, this is only up slightly from the $30 million per year he currently makes. Negotiations between David Letterman and CBS have picked up again, sources indicate that the talks are progressive and the tone is calmer than it was before. One Letterman adviser said, after the first round of CBS negotiations last month, that they had a crystallized feeling that CBS did not really care very much about keeping Letterman.

The door is still open and ABC, but CBS officials are trying to talk Dave out of a move, sighting ABC's low prime-time ratings. Fox has not been brought up yet, but it is likely that they are preparing an offer for Letterman as well. Letterman has been drawn to ABC because of their highly rated late local news, for their young viewers, and for their willingness to advertise the Letterman show in prime-time, something CBS is barely doing now. The Letterman camp is frustrated, and no doubt, so is CBS, but for fans, for Dave, for the staff, for everyone, let's hope everything works out.

On to Les Moonves, president of CBS, Dave and him have had less than a perfect relationship, you may remember that Howard Stringer (former President of CBS) is the one who brought Letterman to the network, Letterman and Stringer quickly formed a friendship and to this day, David Letterman sends Howard Stringer a gift on his birthday. With the rocky relationship between Dave and Les, it was surprising today to hear Moonves say this: "CBS is proud to have been the home of David Letterman since 1993, he is truly one of the great talents of our time, and we hope things work out."

|dave is one powerful dude|

Forbes magazine lists David Letterman as the 24th most powerful celebrity! Other powerful talk show hosts included on the list are Oprah, 9th, Regis Philbin, 22nd, Rosie O'Donnell, 26th, Jay Leno barely in the top 50 at #41, and Barbara Walters at 73rd. To see the full list and details about every single celeb in the top 100, CLICK HERE

TV Guide also honors David Letterman in their current issue as the #2 M.V.P. personality in television, that issue is on stands now!

|if the move happens...|

If David does move to ABC, here is what we can expect: The show will stay in New York City, Dave calls it home and the East coast loves him, the show will have the same name (Letterman's Worldwide Pants owns the show, therefor owns the name), new music, a new set, and a new studio. The Ed Sullivan Theater would still be owned by CBS and you can bet your life that they wouldn't sell it to ABC. Sources say that the show would move to Channel 7 WABC Upper West side studio, the same building where Dave's friend Regis Philbin tapes Live with Regis and Kelly. The new show would start around September of 2002, no later than November, no earlier than July. It could be a fresh start for Dave, a new network, a new-everything, if Dave wanted, he could even change the format of the show, ratings would be likely to improve because ABC would advertise the show in their prime-time much more than CBS does, ABC would also have a stronger nightly news lead-in, in the top ten markets ABC has the #1 local news. The move could also help the ratings of Good Morning America, people shut off their TV's after Dave is over, when they wake up in the morning it is still set to ABC, bringing in more viewers for GMA, Jay Leno has done wonders for the ratings at Today in recent years.

|dave moving to abc?|

ABC has made a serious offer to get David Letterman to ditch the "Eye" for the "Alphabet." David Letterman has made it clear that he WILL NOT got o ABC if his arrival leads to the departure of Ted Kopple. ABC is hoping that Dave will boost their revenues, currently, the combo of Nightline and Politically Incorrect on ABC costs the network $10 million a year in losses, where Letterman brings in tens of millions for CBS. ABC has said that regardless of Letterman's decision, Nightline will most likely not continue, the future of Politically Incorrect has been unclear since the beginning of this season, renewal efforts were not helped by host Bill Maher's statements about September 11th, calling the terrorists "brave," many advertisers dropped their ads from the show.

ABC investors seem to approve of the announcement, Disney's stock rose nearly a dollar on Friday, March 1. A Late Show staffer who spoke with Stupid Fan Tricks had no comment on what was happening, and David Letterman is on vacation all of next week, so it could be up to a week before anyone hears anything from the man himself on this deal, Kopple is back in Washington but is avoiding the public eye for now, he is said to be furious with ABC, and possibly Letterman. A source at Nightline and from ABC News said they had no previous knowledge up until late Thursday night when the story broke, they are said to be shocked and upset.

As of now, no one really has made an official statement, but Stupid Fan Tricks will have any developments as they happen.

|leno is up--dammit|

Total Viewers:
Tonight Show: 6.79 million, Late Show: 4.71, Nightline: 4.26

Tonight Show: 2.6/11, Late Show: 1.9/7, Nightline: 1.4/5

Tonight Show: 3.0/12, Late Show: 2.1/8, Nightline: 1.7/6

Source: MediaWeek

|up from average|

The latest Late Show ratings are up from 2001's average of 4.3 million viewers, the ratings for the week of January 28, 2002 are as follows:

Tonight Show with Jay Leno: 6.63 million viewers per night
Late Show with David Letterman: 4.70 million viewers per night

In the 18-49 age category Leno has a 2.4/10 and Letterman has a 2.0/8

In the 25-54 age category Leno has a 2.9/11 and Letterman has a 2.1/8

Source: MediaWeek

|new letterman contract|

Contract talks between CBS and David Letterman have began, this comes on the eve of David Letterman's 20th anniversary in late night television, Letterman's current contract is worth between $15-20 million dollars a year according the Hollywood Reporter and ends in late August or early September. David Letterman is expected to extend his contract by only 2 to 3 years, but CBS may urge Dave to extend his contract by a larger length of time due to his rise in ratings this season, the Late Show is up 12 percent in the key demo of 18-49 year olds over last year, the show still remains second to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC, but the ratings gap is narrowing between the two shows. David Letterman has hosted the Late Show since 1993, prior to that he hosted Late Night on NBC and re-invented the talk show format, that show started in 1982.

|tv barn's keen| has put up it's Ten Best of 2001 list, included in both TV Barn's and several critic's list is the Late Show .

TV Barn writes in part:

Last year, after his hour of need, Dave Letterman shared his still-beating heart and won over ours. This year, he opened his heart as never before, spilling out his anger and grief over the attacks on his adopted hometown. Audiences embraced Letterman as the cranky but resilient New Yorker we suddenly found endearing. On the eve of his 20th anniversary in late night television, he's having his best ratings in half a decade...

|dave tops e!|

David Letterman named 'Host With The Most Influence in Pop Culter 2001' by E! Entertainment Television.

Thousand of E! viewers voted on the E! website, the top five are as follows:
5. Jeff Probst, 4. Bill Maher, 3. Ann Robinson, 2. Jon Stewart, 1. David Letterman

|moment in time|

The Late Show with David Letterman Sept. 17 episode named 'TV Moment of the Year 2001' by 'TIME Magazine'

TIME writes in part:

Irony was dead, they said. Humor was unseemly. And late-night comics, those unacknowledged legislators of America, no longer had anything to say to us. Yet it took a late-night comic to voice, movingly and indelibly, how we felt.

|dave intriguing?|

David Letterman is on 'The 25 Most Intriguing People of 2001' list in 'People Magazine'

People writes in part:

Back from vacation a week after the Trade Towers attack, a teary, halting Letterman started off speaking of America's need to find the courage to muddle on with routine life.

stupid fan tricks - stay up and laugh