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Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 11:03 GMT
Letterman talks again

David Letterman will initially return part-time

US talk show host David Letterman is to make his TV comeback later this week, just over a month after undergoing open-heart surgery.

The 52-year old presenter, who underwent a quintuple bypass on 14 January, will record his first new Late Show for the CBS network on Friday.

His first guest on the show - to be shown on 21 February - will be the host of the US version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Regis Philbin. Letterman first revealed his heart problems on air to him in January.

Philbin underwent his own emergency heart surgery in 1993
The show's producer Rob Burnett told reporters that there was "no shortage of volunteers" to be Letterman's guest in the first show back, but that Philbin was the obvious choice.

"He's a friend and he's tied to this experience for us," Burnett said.

Letterman will record a second show with Hollywood actress Julia Roberts on the 23 February, after which he will return to the show for two or three nights a week.

"I think Dave will ultimately be able to do five nights a week again. It's just a question of whether he wants to do it," added Burnett.

Philbin and actor Bill Cosby are both scheduled to fill in for Letterman on the Late Show - the first time the presenter has used stand-in hosts since he started in late night television in 1982.

Ratings winner

Letterman's comeback is likely to be a big ratings draw for CBS, which comes at an ideal time for the network.

It comes in the February ratings "sweeps", one of the ratings periods used by the US networks to gauge future advertising rates.

During Letterman's absence the show has managed to keep up with of its NBC rival, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, by repeating interviews with some of Letterman's most memorable guests.

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See also:
15 Jan 00 |  Americas
Heart scare for Letterman
13 Jan 00 |  Americas
Hillary Clinton does Letterman

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