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Familiar face gets tapped for Ferguson

'Late Late' lands a helping hand

NEW YORK — The “host whisperer” is taking the helm of CBS’ “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.”

Peter Lassally, who earned the moniker as coach and consigliore to Johnny Carson and David Letterman, is taking the helm of the show to help mentor Ferguson, the first-time host Lassally tapped in December to front the show.

Lassally, 72, will take full day-to-day control of the show after production company Worldwide Pants declined to extend the contract of exec producer Todd Yasui.

“We are fortunate to have in Peter a legend of latenight television whose years with Johnny Carson and David Letterman make him uniquely qualified to guide Craig Ferguson and the ‘Late Late Show’ into the future,” said Worldwide Pants topper Rob Burnett.

NBC latenight vet Gary Considine, who produced “The Tonight Show” for a decade ending in 2002, will be added as a co-executive producer.

Head writer Hugh Fink left a few weeks ago, after “Showbiz Show With David Spade” got picked up by Comedy Central.

Mike Armstrong was appointed head writer of the show.

Shakeup comes seven months into the show’s relaunch with Ferguson at the helm. He was selected after a lengthy tryout process that included D.L. Hughley and Michael Ian Black.

Ferguson’s presence immediately boosted ratings, and CBS touted his February sweeps numbers, which were better than those of his two predecessors, Craig Kilborn and Tom Snyder.

But since then ratings have flattened out, and it appears the gains Ferguson has made over Kilborn have been among men and women over 50.

Season-to-date, Ferguson is averaging 1.8 million viewers a night, compared with 2.5 million for NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and 1.5 million for ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Lassally, who spent 23 years as Carson’s producer and produced Letterman’s shows at NBC and CBS, is already heavily involved with coaching Ferguson on his monologue and delivery.

Ferguson inherited a production and writing staff from the Kilborn days; when he won the host sweepstakes in December. He assured the staff, “No one’s getting fired … today.”

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