CBS late-night host David Letterman says he is interested in Tom Snyder as a candidate for a nightly series to follow his own show but doesn't know whether the network would go for the idea.
Snyder, 57, hosted a late-night NBC talk program, "Tomorrow," after Johnny Carson's "The Tonight Show" from 1973 to 1982. He has a contract to continue his 1-year-old CNBC cable talk show until January.
Bob Costas recently turned down the post-Letterman series to remain with NBC. Regis Philbin has also been mentioned for the 12:35 a.m. job, but he has a contract with his syndicated series that runs through August, 1995.
Asked about his feelings about Snyder hosting a companion show, Letterman, who would produce the series under his three-year, $42-million deal with CBS, told The Times:
"Oh, I would think of him, absolutely. But maybe it's just me. I'm 46. Maybe I'm the right audience for Tom. Maybe the network would say, 'Does Tom appeal to 16-year-old kids?' I don't know. I'm just telling you my personal taste. I think you could do a lot worse than Tom Snyder."
Letterman, who succeeded Snyder in the post-Carson show, said he is "very fond of the work of Tom Snyder and have been since I was back in Indianapolis, watching him from (the early 1970s) on. I watch his CNBC show. I keep saying to people, 'Is it just me who likes Tom or does everybody like Tom?' It was true with his (ABC) radio show. I would listen to that every night."
Peter Lassally, who with Robert Morton is co-executive producer of Letterman's nightly show, says they are all "big fans" of Snyder "and we would love to do a show with him. The name certainly has come up. But we haven't had any serious discussions with Tom or CBS. No negotiations are going on."
A CNBC spokesman noted that Snyder is "under contract" and said, "We plan on keeping him." A source at the cable network added, "We don't want to lose him. He does real good numbers for the network. I think we're going to do a lot to keep him."
CNBC is the cable network of NBC, with which Letterman had prolonged and public differences before he finally left last year to join CBS.
The Letterman camp and CBS would like to debut a follow-up series to his show by fall, once a host is found. But the comedian said "it would be a miracle" if his company can launch its late-late series that soon, adding: "Maybe, more accurately, the first of the year."
CBS declined comment on the Snyder situation. Snyder also declined comment. But, last month in an interview, he said the Letterman show was "awesome. . . . He's taken 11:30 to a whole new level for CBS."
The post-Letterman show would give CBS a contender against NBC's new late-late night host, Conan O'Brien, who follows Jay Leno's "The Tonight Show." O'Brien inherited Letterman's old time period in the late-night game of musical chairs.