David Letterman: JP Filo/CBS
Gary Susman
June 10, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Just two months after a debilitating bout of shingles kept him off the air for a month, is David Latterman running out of steam? Last week, the 56-year-old host announced he’d like to take Fridays off, at least for the summer, and let guest hosts fill in. Then he turned over last Friday’s ”Late Show” to Tom Arnold. As Letterman put it on the air, ”I’ve worked since I was 11 years old. And I just feel like it’s summer now, I’d like to take a day off.” He said he suffered from ”T.A.S… Tired Ass Syndrome.”

Letterman’s spokesperson told the Associated Press he’d announce this week how long he expects the shortened work weeks to continue. ”We don’t expect it to be a prolonged situation,” CBS spokesman Chris Ender told AP. Oddly, Letterman doesn’t usually tape shows on Friday anyway; he prefers to tape two shows back-to-back on Thursday, so his new schedule would only give him a couple extra hours off. Still, given that NBC rival Jay Leno, whose Cal Ripken-esque work ethic has allowed him only one guest host in 11 years (Katie Couric, during last month’s one-day job swap), continues to beat him handily in the ratings, it’s surprising that Letterman would want to risk further ratings erosion by turning over his desk once a week.

Meanwhile, Letterman’s medical woes continue. On Sunday, he sliced open his finger at home in a kitchen mishap. A surgeon sutured the wound on the air on Monday.

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