Craig Ferguson “Done” with “Late Late Show”

Another big change is coming to network TV’s late-night lineup: Craig Ferguson is stepping down as host of CBS’ Late Late Show in December.

American audiences first took notice of Ferguson during his tenure as Nigel Wick on The Drew Carey Show. He debuted as host of The Late Late Show in 2005.

Craig announced his departure during a Monday night taping, comically comparing his split with the network to a GOOP-like divorce.

“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.”

Much speculation was made about Ferguson’s future with the network after CBS failed to hand over the Late Show to the Scottish-born side-splitter, whose contract is set to expire this summer. Ferguson’s departure as host follows CBS’ selection of Comedy Central’s own Stephen Colbert as a successor to David Letterman. Letterman, who has hosted the Late Show since its inception in 1993, produces the Late Late Show. HE recently announced that he, too, will be turning in his late-night card, with an official retirement date expected sometime in 2015.

Ferguson is insistent, however, that the decision to step down had nothing to do with losing out on the Late Show. He tells Variety:

“It’s an inevitable thing when David announced his retirement, people are going to say ‘Oh he’s leaving because of that.’ No matter what I say or what I do, they’re gonna say that…I had no desire — none — to do that job. I could barely keep it together at 12:30, never mind 11:30. Nobody wants to hear it. It’s so bizarre. It really wasn’t what I aspired to. Doing this job wasn’t something I aspired to, either. I kind of fell into this.”

Fergie, 51, claims his late-night exit has been months in the making:

“It wasn’t contentious. I was just like, ‘I feel like I’m done.’ We were all fine and were tying up loose ends. And then Dave surprised everybody with the announcement and that threw a spanner in the works. And I had to sit and keep my mouth shut while speculation raged wildly.”

Speculation, you say? Perhaps Craig means the $5 million payout he’s allegedly owned by CBS after contractually being promised Letterman’s Late Show seat.

Ferguson stayed mum on that. Instead he’s turning his focus to searching for more adventurous work. He already has a few projects in the pipeline through his Great Mountain West production company, including hosting a new syndicated game show — Celebrity Name Game — premiering this fall.

“The whole idea is that show business should have some adventure to it, I think. It’s not about knowing what you’re doing day in and day out, year after year…I wanted to leave the show before I stopped enjoying it. That was my goal. I didn’t want it to be a chore.”

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