NBC's loss of Letterman is CBS's gain

January 13, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD -- Late-night television talk-show host David Letterman is moving to CBS, following a failed 11th-hour bid by NBC to keep him, according to sources close to the discussions.

The decision followed a weekend of tense negotiations in which top NBC executives debated whether to give Mr. Letterman the time slot occupied by "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. Sources last night said Mr. Leno's supporters ultimately prevailed, however, and the network notified Mr. Letterman that it could not meet his demands.

NBC's decision frees the acerbic Mr. Letterman to move to CBS as early as this summer, when his contract expires. CBS has promised Mr. Letterman the 11:30 time slot as part of one of the most generous compensation packages ever offered a TV entertainer.

NBC, CBS and Mr. Letterman's representatives declined comment on the deal yesterday. NBC is expected to discuss Mr. Letterman's status tomorrow.

Mr. Leno said he was unaware of NBC's decision not to match the CBS offer for Mr. Letterman. "They told me they would have a decision at the end of the week." he said.

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