UPDATED: Shaffer Now Says He’ll Stay ‘As Long As Dave Wants’

Paul Shaffer on David Letterman's "Late Show" (Photo: CBS)

UPDATED: “Late Show” musical director Paul Shaffer sought late Monday to correct — or at least clarify — the statements he made earlier in which he indicated he’s thinking about retiring from David Letterman’s “Late Show” in 2014. Shaffer issued this statement: “In an interview with a reporter, I made two unrelated points which, joined together, seem to say something that isn’t true,” he said. “It’s true that the show was recently extended for two years, and yes, someday when it’s all over, I will most likely take a nap. But I hope that day never comes. As long as the show goes on, I will be there for as long as Dave wants me on it.”

PREVIOUSLY: Paul Shaffer says he’s thinking about retiring from late-night TV in 2014. But the remarks he made on the subject are far from definitive.

Shaffer, 62 — who’s been David Letterman’s sidekick and musical director for 30 years — apparently talked about the future in an interview with TV Guide Canada magazine (here). Shaffer, a Canada native, was interviewed in Toronto earlier this month when he hosted an awards show there.

“We’ve been on 30 years so now we’ve got another two years,” Shaffer is quoted as saying, referring to his (and Dave’s) most recent contract renewal, which has them staying on at least through 2014. “I’m going to be certainly ready to lie down after that, take a nap,” Shaffer said.

But then he hedged. “But once again,” Shaffer said, “life is nutty. Anything can happen. I’ve been so lucky and blessed to be working this long in show business. And whatever happens now is just gravy to me.”

Indeed, these are the kinds of seemingly off-the-cuff comments that make you wonder how serious they really are. In fact, one close friend of Shaffer’s tells us that (he or she) has never heard Shaffer say anything about retiring.

In the interview, Shaffer admits that he loves the attention he receives from performing every night on CBS’s “Late Show.” And he’d be reluctant to give that up. “I love to be the center of attention,” he said. “My over-sized ego craves it and needs it. It’s more of a sick need to be loved and have everyone paying attention to you.”

A story in the New York Post about the same interview speculates that Shaffer would also likely be reluctant to give up an annual salary estimated at $5 million.

Our take: We can’t imagine Dave without Paul, and we’re pretty sure neither of them can imagine it either. We suspect that, somewhere down the line, they’ll both pack it in at the same time. But in the end, what Paul said about craving the limelight will likely be the deciding factor — for Dave and him. After 30 years of working together, the two men happen to be very close. That leads us to assume that a decision about ending their run in late-night will, in all likelihood, be a joint one.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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