The Ed Sullivan Theater under consruction -- Rats, high costs, and cooling system snafus plague the revamping of David Letterman's stage

By Sharon Isaak
Updated May 07, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

If you think Conan O’Brien has a tough job ahead of him, it’s nothing compared to the task facing construction workers now revamping Manhattan’s decrepit Ed Sullivan Theater for David Letterman. Some of the snags so far:

The place is a money pit. CBS, having budgeted a reported $4 million to renovate, is running into hidden extra costs, like the price of relocating several newly discovered 40-foot stained-glass windows that were part of the original 1927 structure. ”It’s more complicated than I thought-the building is really old,” says CBS’ Ed Grebow, who’s overseeing renovations.

Dave can’t stand the heat. Letterman reportedly wants his studio kept at a cool 62 degrees under the hot TV lights. But generating the big chill in the cavernous Sullivan will require cutting through some red tape: Any new cooling system will have to be approved by the city landmarks commission.

The beasts under the seats. CBS must evict the theater’s current residents — reported legions of giant rats that act like they own the place come nightfall. ”I’ve never seen them,” Grebow says, ”but there will be no rats by the time Dave moves in. We will relocate them.”