The late night game of musical chairs is about to end — and David Letterman’s one-time protégé looks like he’ll be the one without a seat.
CBS’ “Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson has lost his champion — Letterman himself — and faces an uncertain future.
“He’s not exactly in the driver’s seat when it comes down to negotiating (a new deal),” a source close to Ferguson told The News.
Ferguson is not likely to be back when his current contract expires in June 2015, sources said. But that contract has a clause that pays him as much as $10 million if he did not get Letterman’s job when the legendary comic retired.
Executives at the network said Ferguson wasn’t even considered to replace Letterman because the focus of his talk show is “too narrow.” They are also disappointed that it never became a ratings smash.
Ferguson’s show is part of a unique deal Letterman worked out with CBS shortly after he started at “The Late Show” in 1993 when the network was desperate to negotiate a long-term extension with the gap-toothed funnyman.
In what has been described as one of the most creative deals in television, CBS gave Letterman and his production company, Worldwide Pants, control of the 12:30 a.m. slot following “The Late Show.”
Worldwide Pants created “The Late Late Show” in January 1995 with Tom Snyder as the host. Snyder was succeeded in 1999 by Craig Kilborn, who was replaced in 2005 by Ferguson.
With Letterman out of the picture next year, Ferguson is negotiating with CBS instead of Letterman’s production company as he has in the past. And CBS isn’t negotiating back.
Instead, the network is talking to Chelsea Handler, the host of “Chelsea Lately” on E!, sources said.
I'd rather see her come for Seth Meyers