The Wooing of David Letterman

Rival CBS makes the top bid for the NBC star, who was passed over for the job of Tonight show host. Now his network must persuade him to stay or see him become a competitor.

"WHAT ARE YOUR HOURS?" Steve Martin wanted to know. Appearing as a guest on Late Night with David Letterman last week, Martin surveyed the studio with approving nods, probed the host for details about his employment perks and asked to try out his chair. "The only reason I'm doing this," he commented, "is I happen to be friendly with NBC."

And so the barrage of "Is Letterman leaving?" jokes begins. The late-night host, whose unhappiness with NBC has been a running gag for years, now has a whole new arena for backstage barbs: he has embraced a rich offer from rival...

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