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David Letterman Tops 'Tonight Show' For First Time In Eight Months

Could NBC's worst nightmare be coming true? The ratings are in and David Letterman topped the 'Tonight Show' for the first time in eight months on Tuesday night -- just one week into Conan O'Brien's debut as host.

Preliminary ratings for the night show the 'Tonight Show' attracted 2.9 percent of television homes, while the 'Late Show' drew 3.4 percent.

In all, the numbers represent a 13 percent gain for Letterman from the same week last year, and a 42 percent drop for Conan since his 'Tonight Show' debut.

Letterman's guests for the night were Julia Roberts and the Black Eyes Peas, while O'Brien welcomed Eddie Murphy, 'The Office's Angela Kinsey and Bonnie Raitt.

The ratings gap between the hosts had been narrowing nearly every night since O'Brien's debut, but it's the first time the 'Late Show' has topped 'Tonight' in nearly eight months.

The ratings win comes a day after CBS extended David Letterman's 'Late Show' contract to 2012.

Julia Roberts hinted at the brewing late night war in her appearance, before she gave the host her vote of confidence, and told Letterman: "You are so much funnier than other people who talk at this time of the evening."

NBC co-chairman Marc Graboff says the late-night ratings game 'is a marathon' and believes Conan will win out in the end as viewers develop loyalties, but the news has to certainly be concerning for the last place network.

June 11, 2009 |

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