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David Letterman: ‘Network has been great, but I’m retiring’

David Letterman

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Late night television legend David Letterman will retire in 2015.

Letterman announced his plan during a taping of “The Late Show” on Thursday afternoon. He said he had discussed the possibility of his retirement with CBS president Les Moonves,

David Letterman“He and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance,” Letterman said. “And I phoned him just before the program, and I said ‘Leslie, it’s been great, you’ve been great, and the network has been great, but I’m retiring.'”

Letterman didn’t specify an exact end date for his tenure on “The Late Show.”

“I think it will be at least a year or so, but sometime in the not too distant future,” he said.

Letterman’s announcement initially leaked out when a performer, Mike Mills, who was at the taping of “The Late Show” tweeted out the news. “Dave just announced his retirement,” Mills wrote.

The announcement comes just weeks after Letterman’s longtime rival, Jay Leno, retired from the NBC “Tonight Show.” Leno was replaced by Jimmy Fallon.

Last fall, Letterman extended his contract through 2015; news reports at the time said he gave no indication that it would be his last contract.

Letterman, who will turn 67 next week, has hosted “The Late Show” since 1993. The show has been nominated for 72 Emmy Awards and has won nine.

Letterman began his television career in 1969 working as an announcer and weekend weatherman at WLWI (now WTHR), an ABC affiliate in Indianapolis, Indiana. He has been a staple of late night since 1982, when he began hosting the NBC show “Late Night with David Letterman.”

After long-time Tonight Show host Johnny Carson announced his retirement in 1992, NBC chose Jay Leno as Carson’s replacement. Letterman, in turn, started hosting CBS’ “The Late Show” in 1993. Band leader Paul Shaffer followed Letterman from NBC to CBS.

“I just want to reiterate my thanks for the support from the network, all of the people who have worked here, all of the people in the theater, all the people on the staff, everybody at home, thank you very much,” Letterman said Thursday. “What this means now, is that Paul and I can be married.”

Les Moonves, the present and CEO of CBS, released a statement about Letterman’s retirement late Thursday.

“When Dave decided on a one-year extension for his most recent contract, we knew this day was getting closer, but that doesn’t make the moment any less poignant for us. For 21 years, David Letterman has graced our Network’s air in late night with wit, gravitas and brilliance unique in the history of our medium. During that time, Dave has given television audiences thousands of hours of comedic entertainment, the sharpest interviews in late night, and brilliant moments of candor and perspective around national events. He’s also managed to keep many celebrities, politicians and executives on their toes – including me. There is only one David Letterman. His greatness will always be remembered here, and he will certainly sit among the pantheon of this business. On a personal note, it’s been a privilege to get to know Dave and to enjoy a terrific relationship. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye. Fortunately, we won’t have to do that for another year or so. Until then, we look forward to celebrating Dave’s remarkable show and incredible talents.”

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