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Craig Ferguson to Exit CBS' 'Late Late Show'

The host, who has been with the series since 2005, will sign off in December.

Letterman in Line to Top Carson Record
Craig Ferguson

CBS, as expected, is making a change at Late Late Show, with host Craig Ferguson announcing Monday that he will sign off from the series in December.

Ferguson will make the announcement during Monday’s show, which features guests LL Cool J and The Vampire DiariesCandice Accola.

The Late Late Show change means CBS’ entire late-night lineup will undergo a facelift, with The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert already having been tapped to replace a retiring David Letterman as host of Late Show starting in 2015.

“During his 10 years as host, Craig has elevated CBS to new creative and competitive heights at 12:30,” CBS Entertainment chairman Nina Tassler said in a release. “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.”

News of Ferguson’s Late Late Show departure comes as his contract with CBS to host the talker was set to expire this year. Sources told THR that Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants would likely no longer produce a late-night show following Letterman’s exit. (CBS currently co-produces Late Late Night with Worldwide Pants.)

“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,” Ferguson said.

Following CBS’ Colbert announcement, speculation over who would take over the 12:35 a.m. slot for Ferguson has run the gamut, with the host/comedian’s exit widely anticipated. The Ferguson-hosted Late Late Show has been averaging less than half of what NBC’s new Late Night With Seth Meyers is pulling in the key adults 18-49 demographic.

CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves has reportedly been open to candidates outside the traditional mold, with How I Met Your Mother alum Neil Patrick Harris believed to be interested in the job. Harris, 40, a three-time host of the Tony Awards, has twice hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards as well as the World Magic Awards and the Spike Video Game Awards.

The network ruled out Chelsea Handler for the Late Late Show gig earlier this month, telling THR that “there are no discussions” with the E! show host to take over the network’s 12:35 a.m. late-night broadcast. Handler had a general meeting with CBS' syndication group and is rumored to be in talks with Netflix for a new show.

Meanwhile, Ferguson already has his follow-up gig lined up: hosting FremantleMedia North America’s syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game.

The Late Late Show becomes the latest late-night show to make a change at the top. Jimmy Fallon took over NBC’s The Tonight Show, with Meyers taking his seat at Late Night; and Colbert is in for Letterman at CBS. Ferguson has been the host of the Late Late Show since 2005 when he took over for Craig Kilborn.

During his run, Ferguson earned a Peabody Award in 2009 and an Emmy nomination in 2006.