Since May, Jay Leno has been touting his status as No. 1 in late-night TV with a larger-than-life billboard above New York City’s Times Square. So it was only a matter of time before David Letterman — whose CBS studio is within spitting distance of the Leno banner — put up a billboard of his own. On July 15, a smiling Letterman appeared across the street from Jay, proudly proclaiming his Late Show’s No. 3 ranking. ”Now that we have such a beautiful billboard,” jokes Late Show executive producer Rob Burnett, ”it would be a shame if the ratings switched.” A look at other popular third-placers proves that Dave’s in some pretty good company.
· Third-most-popular male movie star: Tom Cruise* · Third-most-popular male TV star: Seinfeld’s Michael Richards* · Third-highest-rated sitcom last season: Friends · Third-highest-rated TV series ever: Gunsmoke and I Love Lucy (tie) · Third-highest-grossing film of all time: Jurassic Park ($357 million) · Third-best-selling album of all time: Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours · Third-most-attended 1996 concert tour: Kiss · Third rock from the sun: Earth