Oh, CBS, how tricky you are: Though a clip of David Letterman’s Late Show interview with Howard Stern — in which the shock jock dissed Leno — has been running rampant throughout the Web today, it was cut short before Letterman told Stern that he would only be hosting the show for a couple more years. Before long, fans who watched the show live last night took the the Internets, wondering if that meant retirement was in Letterman’s future.
As Rob Burnett — CEO of Worldwide Pants and executive producer of Late Show — tells EW, don’t count on it. “I think the first time Dave said he was going to leave in two years was back in 1987,” Burnett says. “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.”
Though Burnett downplays rumors that Letterman will retire in 2013 after his contract expires in 2012, he himself says he has no idea when the talk show host plans to hang up his hat. (Or should we say pants?) “He says this periodically, [but] I don’t want to rule it out,” says Burnett. “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.”
Of course, if you’re heading to Vegas, it wouldn’t be a bad bet to put your money on 2013, especially when you consider that Letterman’s idol, Johnny Carson, retired from The Tonight Show when he was 66 — the same age Letterman will be in 2013. Burnett, however, still insists that there are plenty more Late Shows ahead. “Dave’s as funny as he’s ever been,” he says. “For athletes, there comes a time when you can’t get around on the fastball anymore. [But] Dave is still knocking it out of the park.”