Leno's head writer returning to Letterman

The Associated Press

NEW YORK Jay Leno's former head writer is changing sides in the late-night television wars, Daily Variety reported yesterday.

Joseph Toplyn, who was head writer for the ''Tonight Show With Jay Leno'' until recently, was to be named today to that job with the ''Late Show With David Letterman,'' Daily Variety reported. He will begin work next month, the industry trade paper said.

It will be a return home of sorts for Toplyn, who wrote for Letterman's old ''Late Night'' show at NBC from 1983 to 1990. He has written for ''In Living Color'' and ''The Larry Sanders Show'' as well.

The hire would be part of an effort to restore the ratings luster to CBS' ''Late Show,'' which had consistently bested NBC's ''Tonight Show'' until slipping to second place in recent months.

Rob Burnett, who quit as the ''Late Show'' head writer last summer to create the Letterman-produced ''Bonnie Hunt Show,'' will return as a ''Late Show'' producer, Daily Variety said.

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