- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) David Letterman decided yesterday to stick with CBS, spurning a multimillion-dollar offer to jump to ABC.
The talk-show host made the announcement directly to his fans at the taping of his first show back from a week's Caribbean vacation in St. Bart's. While he was away, the television world was abuzz about his future.
After an opening monologue where he joked about the network courtship, Mr. Letterman sat down at his desk, told a story about when he came to CBS in 1993, and announced he was staying put.
The "Late Show" host's contract with CBS was due to expire this summer. No details were immediately released about the terms or length of the contract.
It was a bitter disappointment for ABC, now left to salve the wounds that the Letterman flirtation created within its news division. ABC let it be known that it would replace Ted Koppel's "Nightline" with Mr. Letterman if it succeeded in luring him.
Rob Burnett, president of Mr. Letterman's production company Worldwide Pants, said that the fact Mr. Letterman "has been here nine years and built a franchise was too much for Dave to walk away from."
Before his announcement, the 54-year-old Mr. Letterman joked about the attention.
"This is how strange my life has been the last week," he said. "Earlier today, I got a call from NBC offering me the 'Tonight' show."
That joke had a certain edge to it: NBC's decision to name Jay Leno as host of the "Tonight" show in 1993 led to Mr. Letterman jumping to CBS.
In other talk show developments yesterday:
Oprah Winfrey signed a two-year extension to her current contract that will keep "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on the air in national syndication for four more years after this season. But Miss Winfrey will hang up her microphone after the 2005-06 season, a show spokeswoman said.
Sally Jessy Raphael's daytime talk show, the longest-running of its genre, has been canceled after nearly two decades on the air. Her show had sunk to ninth in the ratings among talk shows, after being third only to Oprah Winfrey and Jerry Springer three years ago.


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