Ferguson broke the news during the taping of tonight’s show, with CBS issuing a press release shortly after. CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler had the following to say about the news:
“During his 10 years as host, Craig has elevated CBS to new creative and competitive heights at 12:30. He infused the broadcast with tremendous energy, unique comedy, insightful interviews and some of the most heartfelt monologues seen on television. Craig’s versatile talents as a writer, producer, actor and comedian speak to his great days ahead. While we’ll miss Craig and can’t thank him enough for his contributions to both the show and the network, we respect his decision to move on, and we look forward to celebrating his final broadcasts during the next eight months.”
In the same statement, Ferguson also added the following about his exit:
“CBS and I are not getting divorced, we are ‘consciously uncoupling,’ but we will still spend holidays together and share custody of the fake horse and robot skeleton, both of whom we love very much.”
Rumors of Ferguson parting ways with the show and CBS ran rampant as soon as Letterman announced plans to retire. Not only were his ratings falling behind Late Night with Seth Meyers, but Ferguson’s contract expires at the end of the year. Even rumors of Chelsea Handler coming in to replace him started to spread online, though CBS quickly debunked them. So now the guessing game as to who will actually take over the 12:30 slot can begin.
Don’t feel too bad for the Scottish comedian, though. Ferguson had a good run while getting to do the show he wanted (as wacky and unconventional as it may have been, unless you can name another talk show with a robot skeleton as its sidekick). Plus, not only will he go on to host FremantleMedia, North America’s syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game, but will also supposedly get an estimated $8 million-$10 million payout for not getting The Late Show slot (as per his last contract states with CBS, who co-produced the 12:30 show with Letterman’s Worldwide Pants productions).
UPDATE: Here’s video of his announcement.