Just in time for the February ratings sweeps -- and just one month after undergoing quintuple bypass heart surgery -- David Lettermanmay be back on the late shift sooner than expected.
The CBS late-night host reportedly worked at his "Late Show" offices in New York for a few hours Monday, reports today said. The date being most bandied about for the comic's possible return is Feb. 14 -- an occurrence that would be sure to give the network a really big ratings Valentine.
Calls to publicists at the "Late Show" offices in New York were not immediately returned.
The Los Angeles Times quotes an unnamed source with the show as saying that Letterman's post-surgery rebound is proceeding "so well and so quickly, we're not canceling the week of the 14th." However, the same source added that a return date has not been set in stone. While Dave's been away, CBS has been airing "viewer's choice" reruns of the show.
Letterman, 52, underwent a successful bypass procedure Jan. 14 to clear a major artery blockage. The operation came just two days after a high-rated appearance on his show by first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and it came just one day after Letterman revealed to guest Regis Philbin that he was due for a heart checkup.
His show has been in repeats since Jan. 17. Letterman was released from a New York hospital Jan. 19. Initial reports said the host would be out for at least 10 weeks.
But just two weeks ago, "Late Show" executive producer Robert Burnett predicted that Letterman, a workaholic who previously spent 12 hours a day at the office and never missed a show due to illness, ``will be back faster than people think.''
``He's recovering quickly, and he's doing great,'' Burnett said at the time. ``It will be weeks as opposed to months.''
Recently, Letterman's buddy and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" host Regis Philbin publicly offered to fill in for Dave during the star's absence. Burnett said several other celebrities had also offered to guest-host the show. Jerry Seinfeld was rumored to be among the candidates.