|Industry||Television and film
30 Rockefeller Center, New York City, New York
|Headquarters||Ed Sullivan Theater, New York, New York (1993-2015)
106960 Wilshire Blvd,
Los Angeles, California (2015-present), United States
|David Letterman (Chairman)
Rob Burnett (President/CEO)
|Products||Late Night with David Letterman, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Clear Entertainment (C.E. Music)
Worldwide Pants Inc. is an American television and film production company founded and owned by comedian and former talk show host David Letterman.
The company was formerly headquartered at the Ed Sullivan Theater building in New York City, but has since moved to Los Angeles following the ending of the Late Show with David Letterman. The president and CEO is former Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett. Peter Lassally, a former The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and Late Show executive producer, was the senior vice-president until his retirement.
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The first Worldwide Pants production was Late Night with David Letterman, produced in partnership with NBC and Carson Productions. The company, then known as Worldwide Pants Productions, shared a 1991 Peabody Award, for their ability to "take one of TV's most conventional and least inventive forms—the talk show—and infuse it with freshness and imagination."
- Letterman's approach is to nurture an idea with seed money from his production company, then get someone else to pay for the rest of it. He isn't particularly hands-on once the programs get past the initial stages, but his imprimatur carries weight with network buyers. "They've got a point of view about everything they do," says Chris Albrecht, president of original programming at HBO. "These guys are making television every night and have been for a long time. You feel more comfortable with them."
The company produced its first film, Strangers with Candy, a prequel to the TV show of the same name. The film premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, within the "Park City at Midnight" category. Warner Independent Pictures subsequently signed up as North American distributor of the film, before ThinkFilm acquired the rights from Warner, giving it a limited release in summer 2006. The film grossed slightly more than $2 million, on a $2 million production budget and $1.5 million prints and advertising budget.
In April 2005 the Sci Fi Channel announced that Worldwide Pants would produce a half-hour animated ensemble comedy for the channel from Brendon Small, called Barbarian Chronicles. A subsequent interview with Small confirmed there were no plans to go through with the deal.
2007 WGA strike
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Production of new episodes of the company's two late-night CBS talk shows ceased on November 5, 2007 when the Worldwide Pants writers joined the strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), the trade association of which Worldwide Pants is a member.
During the first part of the strike reruns of Worldwide Pants shows were aired. This changed when Worldwide Pants broke ranks with the AMPTP by negotiating an independent, interim collective bargaining agreement with the Writers Guild of America in which Worldwide Pants essentially agreed to operate in accordance with the contract demands of the WGA for the duration of the labor dispute. The agreements automatically reverted to the final contract terms that the guild reached with the AMPTP at the end of the strike. The agreement allowed both the Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to return to the airwaves with their full writing staffs on January 2, 2008.
The agreement gave Worldwide Pants and CBS a perceived advantage over their rivals at NBC. The latter network was unable to make similar arrangements for its late night programming because NBC had retained control of production operations for both The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Unlike CBS, NBC would have had to negotiate an agreement covering the entire network in order to have writers work on the two late night shows. NBC aired new episodes of its late night shows on the same night as CBS, but without writers. This meant, among other things, that Leno and O'Brien were unable to perform their traditional monologues without violating strike rules (as the WGA had determined Leno previously did with monologues he claimed to have written) and were unable to secure the appearance of most celebrities, who refused to cross a picket line.
In October 2007, the media announced that Worldwide Pants would co-produce its first non-comedy project, a documentary about young adults running for public office. The documentary, titled The Youngest Candidate, was written and directed by Jason Pollock and premiered July 2008 at the Traverse City Film Festival.
In March 2008, EcoMedia announced a "content partnership" with Worldwide Pants to "create original, unscripted, environment-related content, in the style of The Late Show remote segments, for television and Internet distribution."
In 2008 Worldwide Pants signed a product placement deal with Ford to promote the Ford Flex during The Late Late Show, using a series of weekly custom-written skits in which Ferguson played the leader of a band riding in a Flex as they traveled from Los Angeles International Airport to the CBS Studio.
In April 2010, Worldwide Pants started Clear Entertainment, a.k.a. C.E. Music, a record label and announced the signing of their first band Runner Runner, a pop-punk group from Huntington Beach, California.
In April 2012, CBS announced that it would begin co-producing The Late Late Show with Worldwide Pants, part of a deal that included extending Ferguson's contract until 2014.
In October 2012, Worldwide Pants and B&B Productions—a subsidiary of Worldwide Pants created by Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman—announced they had secured the rights to adapt Jonathan Evison's novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving as a feature film.
The company's principal property, Late Show with David Letterman, wrapped up production in 2015. Its production of The Late Late Show also ended once James Corden's version of the franchise launched in March 2015, though Worldwide Pants did continue to produce the show while it was fronted by a series of guest hosts between the departure of Craig Ferguson at the end of 2014 and Corden's premiere. The company is not producing either The Late Show with Stephen Colbert or The Late Late Show with James Corden, both of which are owned outright by CBS.
The company didn't shut down with Letterman's retirement from late night television; however, its future direction was unclear at the time of Letterman's finale. CEO Rob Burnett said at the time of Late Show's finale: "I honestly don't know what the future of Worldwide Pants will be... We've built a brand here. There is value. Ultimately it will be to Dave to decide what he wants to do with that." Burnett indicated that he will likely step down as CEO in order to focus on his own projects once matters dealing with Late Show's winding down are concluded. The company moved out of the 13 story office building above the Ed Sullivan Theater, its home for 22 years, and relocated to Los Angeles.
In early 2017, Worldwide Pants won a lawsuit over royalties.
In an interview with New York magazine published in March 2017, Letterman said of the company: "Worldwide Pants is now on pause. Years ago, I wanted Worldwide Pants to be an ongoing organism whereby we could continue to employ people and develop material. In the meantime, things changed out from under us. It was explained to me that that production model doesn’t hold up anymore. So Worldwide Pants ran out of steam for lack of opportunity. But we are trying to put it back together. It would be fun not to be involved in traditional ABC, NBC, CBS television. There’s a billion different places to put something now."
Due to its ownership of Late Show with David Letterman and various iterations of The Late Late Show, Worldwide Pants is also the owner of a considerable library of archival footage from both programs which, according to Burnett, "is extremely valuable if handled correctly".
- Worldwide Pants Inc. Company Profile from Yahoo! Finance
- 1991 Peabody Award to Late Night with David Letterman from the Peabody Award website
- Celebrity 100 article about Letterman and Worldwide Pants, from a July 2002 Forbes article
- Strangers with Candy from The Numbers
- "Brendon Small interview". lambgoat.com (published 7 April 2008). Fall 2007.
- Documentary fits Worldwide Pants from Variety (magazine) magazine
- Release dates for The Youngest Candidate from the Internet Movie Database
- "EcoMedia and Worldwide Pants Incorporated Announce Content Partnership". EcoMedia press release. Reuters. 7 March 2008.
- "Innovative Marketing Campaign Puts Ford Flex in Front of Millions of Potential Customers". Ford press release. Reuters. 2008-09-03. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
- Simon Vozick-Levinson (April 28, 2010). "David Letterman starts record label, signs pop-punk band". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- "CBS ANNOUNCES New Contract Extension with Late Night Stars David Letterman and Craig Ferguson through 2014". Press release. CBS Corporation. April 3, 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- Tatiana Siegel (October 11, 2012). "Worldwide Pants Nabs Big-Screen Rights to Jonathan Evison's Novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "David Letterman’s Final ‘Late Show': What’s Next for His Production Company Worldwide Pants". The Wrap. May 21, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2015.
- "On David Letterman's next Top 10 List: What to do with his company". Crain's New York Business. Bloomberg News. May 20, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2015.