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The program ran 90 minutes for the first six weeks, and was shortened to 60 minutes beginning on 4 August 1980 (the last 12 weeks).
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To make room for The David Letterman Show, NBC president Fred Silverman had canceled the daytime version of The Hollywood Squares (1965), The New High Rollers (1974), and Chain Reaction (1980) just so Letterman could have a spot on NBC's schedule. Silverman also considered canceling Wheel of Fortune (1975) as well, but he changed his mind upon discovering that the show was in fact one of the highest-rated programs on NBC's morning schedule.
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The original hire for the show's producer was Bob Stewart, the veteran quiz-show creator who had enlisted Letterman as a panelist on The (New) $25,000 Pyramid (1973) from 1978 onward. However, due to creative differences, Stewart left the show four days before its premiere.
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