It’s been almost 20 years since David Letterman fought a losing battle for The Tonight Show chair, but that didn’t stop the current king of late night from zinging his former employer throughout his entire Monday night broadcast.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, once again, I did not get ‘The Tonight Show,’” he joked, adding, “That’s not all, listen to this: today, NBC announced that they are bringing back Johnny Carson and they’re putting him on at 10 p.m.”
At one point in the program, NBC “broke in” to Letterman’s coverage, informing him he had his old 12:30 p.m. slot back; Letterman also said he wasn’t worried about longtime rival Jay Leno, who he was sure “would land on his chin.”
Letterman and Leno’s battles for Carson’s chair have been well-chronicled in the 1994 book, The Late Shift, and the 1996 HBO film of the same name.
CBS — which has posted tremendous late night ratings gains since NBC’s shakeup last summer — is shoring up in the wake of NBC’s internal meltdown, as entertainment president Nina Tassler said Monday that contract extensions are in the works for both Letterman and late night host Craig Ferguson.